Photo and videos courtesy: Fox Studios
Rent On Fox aired Sunday night, offering both old-school Rent-heads and dance and theatre fans of a new generation the chance to celebrate the iconic TONY® Award-winning 1990s musical.
Not without some major setbacks leading to the broadcast— mostly surrounding Brennin Hunt's injury during Saturday’s final dress rehearsal — Sunday’s presentation was chock full of much to celebrate.
Choreographer Sonya Tayeh of So You Think You Can Dance fame — who is also set to build the dance sequences for the upcoming Broadway adaptation of Moulin Rouge,— worked alongside legendary theatre director Michael Greif, the TONY® nominated genius behind Dear Evan Hansen, Next To Normal, and the original 1996 production of Rent, to create Sunday’s presentation.
The cast was lead by Jordan Fischer, Brandon Victor Dixon, Bennin Hunt, Vanessa Hudgens, Kiersey Clemons, Mario, Tinashe, Valentina, and featured The Greatest Showman’s Keala Settle, and dancers Robert Roldan, Sasha Mallory, and Hannahlei Cabanilla
Dance Network’s got the list of the FOUR BEST THINGS about the televised musical. Check out the list below:
1. Brennin Hunt, A Broken Ankle, and an Old Adage
You’ve probably heard the old adage, “The show must go on”… well, it most definitely came into play Sunday night for Rent On Fox.
Due to a broken ankle suffered in the last ten minutes of Saturday night’s final dress rehearsal by Brennin Hunt — the actor playing the role of Roger Davis — FOX, who built the televised production without understudies, was put in a major spot; and a decision about Sunday’s live broadcast had to be made.
While television viewers who tuned in for Sunday night’s scheduled live-presentation saw mostly taped dress rehearsal footage, the cast rallied around Hunt to simultaneously treat the in-studio audience to live performances of some of the production numbers. Hunt used a wheel-chair to get around the stage.
At the first commercial break, the cast appeared on-screen to let the television audience know what was up.
“Last night during our performance, in front of a live audience one of our cast members sustained an injury,” said Vanessa Hudgens, who played Maureen. “A visit to the hospital confirmed that Brennin Hunt, our Roger, has broken his foot, and will be unable to perform tonight.”
“But,” continued Valentina, who played Angel. “Rent has always been about community, resiliency, and bouncing back— so, the show must go on.”
"Most of what you’ll see tonight will come from last night’s performance,” Jordan Fisher, the actor tasked with playing Marc Cohen, said finally. “But, we’ve all rallied together to rework the final act so that all of us, including Brennin and the original Broadway cast of Rent, can perform it for you, live.”
“So in the words of Jonathan Larson,” Fisher added before being joined by the company, “No day but today!”
The final scene of the musical through the curtain call were all performed and aired live on television.
According to reporting on the story, after rolling his ankle in Saturday’s dress rehearsal, Hunt impressively returned to the stage to finish the end of the taped run-through. He was helped back to the set with the assistance of Brandon Victor Dixon— the Emmy® and TONY® nominated actor playing Tom Collins— and Executive Producer Marc Platt.
Hunt, who was fitted into a cast, posted a video to Instagram after he returned to the set Sunday.
“Breaking my foot last night was not fun, but it’s been great being back on set with everybody,” Hunt said on in his online Instastory. “I love these people so much, they have just showered me in love which is the essence of this musical. I am just truly honored and blessed to be a part of this Rent family.”
2. Sonya Tayeh
Sonya Tayeh brought her inventive and unique style of contemporary, athletic yet pedestrian, and commanding movement to the 90s musical. Tayeh’s distinctive, but apropos, choreographic choices seemingly propelled the story forward with exhilaration.
"I handpicked the ensemble. I was talking to Michael and he said I could handpick them. I told him, 'Give me five minutes! It was a very swift decision, I knew who I wanted to be a part of this with me.' It was a really big treat," Tayeh told Dance Network’s, Kristyn Burtt. "It hardly ever happens. I am very grateful to Michael [Grief] for granting me that. You feel safe when you're scared and have a lot of stress because you have these familiar faces who've worked with you before around you.”
From the top of the show to the final downbeat, Tayeh’s take on the movement definitely kept the piece exciting for dancers.
Highlights included the brilliantly uncomfortable ensemble backed tango in Tango: Maureen, Mimi’s killer thrashy choreo on the scaffolding in Out Tonight, the sensually driven lifts in Contact, and the spirited full-company Act One Finale, La Vie Boheme.
3. Brandon Victor Dixon
BVD is back on television, this year as Collins in Rent. Many fans know him from last year’s Jesus Christ Superstar: LIVE — for which he was nominated for an EMMY® Award, or his work on Broadway in hits Hamilton, Motown The Musical, Shuffle Along or The Color Purple (the last two of which, earned him TONY® nominations).
His moving reprise of I’ll Cover You was one of the most emotionally connected performances of the entire evening.
4. The Reunion of the Original Broadway Cast
Probably the most moving moment of the entire evening came during the Seasons Of Love Reprise in which the cast of the original Broadway production of Rent joined the television cast on the set.
OG Cast members like Idina Menzel, Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Jesse L. Martin and more joined their character counterparts onstage to sing the iconic final song, live. The visibly emotional company, including Hunt — who, along with Pascal, sang from the midstage table on which he sat for the live broadcast portion—, seemed to be both celebrating their accomplishment and taking in the powerfully poignant energy that filled the space
For any real Rent fan, however, to see the older original cast members back together onstage singing that song, live, with this cast — was truly remarkable television.
The now multi-generational hit musical Rent originally appeared Off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop before transferring to Broadway in 1996. The musical went on to win Best Musical at the TONY® Awards, a Grammy®, a Pulitzer Prize®, and launched the careers of many of its original cast members. The musical even had a full-length feature film starring many of the original cast in 2005.
For more performances from Rent On Fox, check out FOX’s video page.
Michael Mahany serves as the New York City Correspondent for Dance Network. He is also a professional actor, musician, dancer, and writer. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, or click here to find out more.