Things tend to go wrong in live performances. This is, after all, part of the thrill of watching them—you never know when someone’s going to trip over a chair or whisper “FUCK!” or cast Carrie Underwood. But one might expect a live production to have a contingency plan for the unexpected absence of a star. Unfortunately, that was not the case with FOX’s live performance of Rent on Sunday night.
Indeed, just hours before the show aired, it was announced that the “live” production would have to use video from Saturday’s dress rehearsal, thanks to a foot injury star Brennin Hunt sustained during a rehearsal scene. The pre-taped segments were... not great.
It’s unclear whether FOX’s cast just didn’t have the range—Tinashe was particularly (and surprisingly) flat as Mimi, as was the pre-injured Hunt as Roger. Vanessa Hudgens (Maureen) and Jordan Fisher (Mark) were both fine, but that almost made the whole thing worse, since these TV musicals tend to be more enjoyable when they’re complete trainwrecks (greetings to Allison Williams!) instead of just mediocre.
Though it’s certainly possible this was just another weak TV musical production, a friend of mine pointed out that it sounded like the cast had been trying to conserve their voices during the dress rehearsal. Which brings me to this: WHY did FOX not have an understudy? Like, it’s fucking Rent, there had to be one available Broadway actor who could step in last minute. They could have pulled an NYU Tisch student out of their dorm room at 8 p.m. and plunked them onstage. Someone has been waiting for this very moment for the entirety of their adolescence!
Hell, I could do Roger’s part at this point, as could anyone in Camp Timber Tops’s Bunk Spruce in Summer 2000. Some of us are very free and ready to belt out “One Song Glory” until our tongues bleed.
Plus, the entire original cast was in the fucking building the whole time. I know it’s been a while, but if I can remember every line of this goddamn musical even though I forgot literally all of my high school Spanish, I’m sure Adam Pascal does, too.
On the bright side, now the movie version of Rent looks good, so.