When I heard that Brennin Hunt, the dude who played Roger Davis in Fox’s live TV production of Jonathan Larson’s Rent, broke his ankle during a rehearsal the night before the live show was supposed to go down, I figured that his understudy pulled a Nomi Malone by pushing him down the stairs so that they could take the role and become an overnight STAH! But that didn’t happen, because Brennin Hunt didn’t have an understudy. None of the leads did. Fox decided to test fate by not getting the lead roles covered, and fate spit back by saying, “Wrong move, trick.”
So because a little thing called “a broken foot” kept Brennin from jumping on tables and running around, Fox decided to mostly scrap the live show. The bad news is that they aired a dress rehearsal from Saturday night. The good news for the actors who didn’t really give it their all during the dress rehearsal is that nobody really watched it. Rent: Not So Live flopped in the ratings with 3.42 million viewers. I mean, it got beat by America’s Funniest Home Videos.
It’s hard to really judge Rent: 5% Live, because it was a dress rehearsal. And as a seasoned theater veteran (I was in like 3 high school plays, okay? ), I know that many actors don’t go all out during the final dress because they’re saving the real raw emotions, vocals, and energy for opening night. (“If you were giving it your all on opening night, then you must’ve been in a coma during the final dress.” – anybody who saw me act in a high school play) But with that being said, even if Brennin didn’t mess up his foot and they did it live, I have a feeling it still would’ve been a subway train wreck.
First of all, the sound was as off as Valentina’s vocals (more on that later). Second of all, the audience would not hit the Callarte La Boca switch on their vocal cords and they screamed way too much. Sometimes their screams drowned out the singing, and they cheered at time when they should’ve had their mouths shut, like when Mimi died. Third of all, the camera work had me feeling like I was on meth, because it was so jerky and messy.
The energy of the overall show was pretty low, and that could’ve been because it was the dress rehearsal. Like Tinashe’s Mimi made it seems like the drug that Mimi is addicted to is Ambien. Because Mimi is a hot lightning bolt of wildness and should be tearing that bitch up.
Vanessa Hudgens got a lot of praise for her Maureen, and while I was into her Rizzo when she did Grease: Live, I wasn’t into her Maureen. Vanessa’s Maureen was too squeaky clean and too polished. Vanessa is 30 years old, but she came off like a 14-year-old in a G-rated christian school production where the characters have diabetes instead of HIV.
La Vie Boheme is perfect and one of the best parts of Rent, but they managed to suck the life out of it. It’s as if they just finished eating Thanksgiving dinner and the tryptophan zombie’d them out.
The only live part from last night’s show was the finale. Brennin did the final scene with his foot in a cast, and then the Original Broadway Cast came out to show those youngins’ how it’s done.
While the viewers at home watched the dress rehearsal, the audience at the live show got a pared down concert-style version. Brennin performed in a wheelchair, and honestly, I would’ve rather seen this version:
— Alison Young (@Foreverayoung) January 28, 2019
As for Valentina as Angel… Every inch of her look gave me Angel, but when she wasn’t lip-synching and was singing live, some people wondered, “Where’s that red lace mouth mask when you need it?”
— J.M. (@JustThisMoon) January 28, 2019
One since-deleted tweet that made the rounds changed my mind about Valentina’s performance, and explained EVERYTHING:
Daniel Day-Lewis, Christian Bale, Jared Leto, and every other method actor need to beg Valentina to teach an acting class, because that IS method acting. The Oscar, Grammy, and Tony people also need to change the rules to include TV performances, because she deserves an automatic EGOT for that.
Rent: Not Live may have been a mess (and felt 525,600 minutes long), but I was still entertained and hope they keep doing these live musicals forever. NBC really needs to go through with Bye Bye Birdie, because during these times, we as a people deserve to come together to drag JLo’s live musical theater vocals. We need that!
Fox has a million clips on their YouTube page including clips from the concert version, if you want to get into that.