After one cast-member breaks his foot, Fox scraps much of the live part of the show, relying on dress rehearsal footage until the final scenes.
Anything can happen on live television, but we didn’t even see that after a dress rehearsal injury turned "Rent: Live" into "Rent: (Not So) Live," with the network offering up dress rehearsal for the majority of the 3-hour production.
The immediate drawback was that you could kind of tell this was a dress rehearsal. While some performers will give their all in dress, not everyone wants to strain their vocals. And as soon as we switched live — which was literally for the last broadcast section, so about 11 minutes total — you could hear the difference.
It’s a shame for the cast and crew as this was rehearsed and staged to be a full live production, and it surely would have been more dynamic than what we got had anyone known yesterday that that performance was the one that would broadcast across the nation.
As reported earlier today, Brennin Hunt, who plays one of the principal characters in the musical, broke his foot late during yesterday’s dress rehearsal, and so it took some last minute staging adjustments to give viewers the final 11 minutes.
That said, footage released to Twitter from the stage where "Rent: Live" was broadcast from showed that the cast still performed a modified version of the musical for the live audience in attendance with Hunt in a wheelchair, while also broadcasting what Fox aired on the big screens above for comparison.
It wasn’t what Fox wanted, it wasn’t particularly what fans wanted, but it still lit up Twitter like every other live musical before it, and like every other live musical before it, there were a lot of criticisms from staging changes to the disruptive audience to the worst "Nooooooooo!" in television history
Yes, Hunt broke his leg and it really changed a key dramatic moment, but the choice made in the absence of mobility did not make the scene better and induced a cringe from the audience so deep chiropractors are booking up overt he next few days to try and fix it.
Below are the seven things Twitter got most worked up about Fox’s not-so-live "Rent: Live."
It’s Not a Rock Concert
It happened with "Grease Live!" and it happened here, with a live audience sprinkled throughout the elaborate staging, which we did enjoy. But this was not the usual theater audience, sitting respectfully during the production and only offering applause at the end of each act. Of course, theater ettiquette isn’t known by all, but would it be too much to educate the television audience, unless they wanted that energy — even if they did roar over some lines of dialogue?
Deviations from the Original
Inevitably when you adapt any production to a new medium, there are changes. When "Rent" hit the big screen, even though it had the original cast, there were some inevitable changes made. And to be honest, that film was not particularly well-received by the musical’s die-hard theater fans. Well, new format for television and nothing has changed.
Don’t REALLY Break a Leg
Brennin Hunt’s injury was the first of its kind for these live stage productions, and the subsequent jettisoning of the majority of the live production had many wondering why there were no understudies for the principal roles as there are in actual theater productions. After all, the show must go on, right?
Not So Live, Not So Great
The problem is that the backup plan was apparently to use the dress rehearsal footage, but it was clearly a rehearsal at points. We got shaky early vocals from Tinashe and Valentina was so rocky we found ourselves wondering how she got cast. They got more confident as it went along, but imagine what could have been if they’d known that was the production?
The Show Must Go On
And then we finally cut live and everything changed. The production energy was through the roof, the vocals were on point and Roger literally never moved again. Okay, this was awkward, but released footage showed him being wheeled around in his wheelchair earlier in the production. If they’d have had more than a few hours to prepare new staging and direction, we might have gotten a wheelchair-bound Roger, which would have made "Rent: Live" even more inclusive than the original. Honestly, many fans probably would have waited.
No Roger, Just No
One of the production’s most gut-wrenching moments was brought to a grinding halt by Hunt’s injury. When the girl say they can’t get Mimi up the stairs, he’s supposed to run to her in anguish, but instead he had to yell from his position on the table and allow others to the heavy lifting. To say the moment didn’t work is a kindness. It was truly and genuinely awful.
OB Cast Reunites for Epic Finale
But much of the musical’s flaws were forgiven in the closing moments of the show. The final scenes were actually live and they sounded great. And then we got the classic lineup but it was with the classic cast, and that brought everyone to their feet as they brought down the house with "Seasons of Love," and then joined up with the new actors who took on their roles. It was a beautiful tribute to the original cast and production and a great way to end the show. So, all is forgiven?
But seriously, we would love to see that full performance with Hunt in the wheelchair. Maybe on the Blu-ray or as a digital release?
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