Fox’s live television production of Jonathan Larson’s award-winning rock musical Rent ended on Sunday on an emotional note.
Moments after the three-hour story came to an end, members of the original Broadway production joined the television cast for a touching encore of Rent’s inspiring anthem, “Seasons of Love.”
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) — as well as ensemble members Gilles Chiasson, Rodney Hicks, and Timothy Britten Parker — were among the original actors who appeared in the number.
All stood in a straight row, with the respective stars playing their roles on Fox standing behind them.
Those actors included Vanessa Hudgens (Maureen), Jordan Fisher (Mark), Brennin Hunt (Roger), Tinashe (Mimi), Brandon Victor Dixon (Tom Collins), Valentina (Angel), Kiersey Clemons (Joanne) and Mario (Benny), as well actors from the ensemble like Emerson Collins, Jennifer Leigh Warren and Keala Settle.
Loosely based on the opera La Boheme, Rent tells the story of a group of New York City artists dealing with the HIV/AIDS crisis in 1989. Songs include “La Vie Bohème,” “Light My Candle,” “Take Me or Leave Me,” ” The Tango Maureen,” “Will I,” “One Song Glory,” and “Today 4 U.”
Tragically, Larson died on January 25, 1996 — the night before Rent’s Off Broadway premiere at the New York Theatre Workshop — of an aortic dissection believed to have been caused by undiagnosed Marfan syndrome.
His musical would go on to receive critical acclaim and commercial success. The show opened on Broadway on April, 29, 1996, and ran for 5,123 performances before closing on Sept. 7, 2008. It won several awards, including the 1996 Tony for best musical and the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Rent’s success of the show led to several national tours and numerous international productions, including a 20th anniversary tour that kicked off in 2016.
Many members of the original cast reunited in 2005 for a film version directed by Chris Columbus.
Fox’s production — directed by the musical’s original Broadway director Michael Grief (stage direction) and Alex Rudzinski (TV direction) — was produced by Larson’s estate alongside Mark Platt (Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, Grease Live, La La Land, Wicked).