Fox’s live staging of Rent ended up being a not-so-live version of the musical on Sunday night, due to star Brennin Hunt’s last-minute injury. But while viewers at home mainly got to see a previously recorded dress rehearsal — before the production went live for the show’s finale — those in the audience at the Los Angeles event got to, well, see it live.
According to footage posted by attendees and the show’s official Twitter account, the cast went on with the show in the performance space, going through a stripped down version to accommodate Hunt, who was in a wheelchair after breaking his foot.
Hunt played aspiring musician Roger in Jonathan Larson’s landmark musical about a group of artists and bohemians living in 1990s New York City. Because of his injury, most of what the audience at home saw Sunday was footage from that recorded rehearsal, a contingency plan live broadcasts often use in the case of emergency. However, during a message aired on the show, the cast confirmed they would perform the finale live, and an encore that followed featured members of the original Broadway cast singing the musical’s hit song “Seasons of Love.”
As noted by Vulture, Rent camera operator Dylan Sanford explained in a series of tweets on Sunday that “because Brennin couldn’t perform any of the choreography, it wasn’t feasible to re-script the whole show (all the technical crew works in tight choreography around the cast),” but “the producers & cast wanted to do SOMETHING for the 1000+ audience members on the stage tonight. SO, the full cast (Brennin included, in a wheelchair) effectively did a high energy table read with live vocals & the band doing their best to synchronize to the broadcast.” He added, “this was incredible. & the full technical crew played along, shooting this live performance for posterity, while the broadcast was also being shown on screens to the house.”
Reviews of the “live” Rent have been mixed — and it could be argued that’s at least partly because of the pre-recorded footage. As EW’s Darren Franich asked in his review, “Were they saving themselves for the Sunday that never came?”
Check out what you didn’t get to see on TV below, including Brandon Victor Dixon’s fantastic rendition of “I’ll Cover You (Reprise).”