The Fox theatrical event Rent took a dramatically different turn after what was intended to be a live performance of Jonathan Larson’s gritty Broadway production was instead shown to viewers in a pre-recorded version, with only the last 10 minutes a live production.
The reason? One of the main actors sustained a serious injury the day before the show’s live January 27 telecast, leading the entire production to be quickly restaged to accommodate the injured actor.
The show began with its intended introduction, the show’s stars Jordan Fisher and Brennin Hunt performing as the characters of Mark and Roger in a fiery opening number.
The show quickly cut to a message from the cast of the show explaining how the production would proceed and what occurred to change the show from live performance to a pre-recorded version.
Entertainment Tonight reported that Vanessa Hudgens, who portrayed the character of Maureen, Valentina, who starred as Angel, and Jordan Fisher, who played Mark, revealed to viewers that Hunt had broken his foot and would be unable to perform.
“But, Rent has always been about community, resiliency, and bouncing back. So the show must go on,” stated Valentina.
“Most of what you’ll see tonight will come from last night’s performance. But we’ve all rallied together to re-work the final act so that all of us, including Brennin — and the original Broadway cast of Rent — can perform it for you live,” stated Fisher to Fox viewers.
The audience in attendance saw Hunt perform the musical, which requires its leads to maintain a high-level of energy darting about the stage, in a wheelchair due to his injury. The production was quickly restaged with many of the numbers involving Hunt re-worked with less choreography, reported Entertainment Tonight.
ET also reported that while the cast performed the musical in its entirety with Hunt in a wheelchair, footage from the dress rehearsal was played simultaneously on several televisions near the stage so the audience could see the show the way it was originally intended to be staged.
— Alison Young (@Foreverayoung) January 28, 2019
Several fans of the show who were at the live performance took to Twitter to share their version of what was seen on camera versus what was seen by Fox viewers and praised the cast for moving forward with the restaged performance rather than canceling it altogether for the studio audience.
— kay (@holdtightjordan) January 28, 2019
There were many fans on Twitter who felt that the show should have used Hunt in a wheelchair, and use it as a teachable lesson of resiliency as “the show must go on.”
One fan noted on the social media site, “[i]t would be great if you would release the REAL Rent: Live with wheelchair accommodations, adaptations, and adjustments. We want inclusive for an inclusive theater.”
— Marjorie Hernandez (@MJae13) January 28, 2019
Despite the apparent confusion between productions, the entire cast came together during the finale of Rent: Live, including Hunt and members of the original Broadway cast.
Joining the Fox cast for the iconic show tune “Seasons Of Love” were Idina Menzel (Maureen), Anthony Rapp (Mark), Adam Pascal (Roger), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Mimi), Jesse L. Martin (Tom Collins), Wilson Jermaine Heredia (Angel), Fredi Walker (Joanne) and Taye Diggs (Benny), along with ensemble members Gilles Chiasson, Rodney Hicks, and Timothy Britten Parker.