It must've been chaos behind-the-scenes of Rent: Live Sunday night. Roger star Brennin Hunt was stuck in a cast after breaking his foot during Saturday's rehearsal. The show started with a notice that scenes were "previously recorded" instead of actually live, to make up for Hunt's injury. But the show used its 24-hour head start to at least plan a big live finish. Hunt was shown on stage with his right foot propped up on a cast as he sang "Your Eyes" to Tinashe as Mimi. Fox flashed "Live" on screen, so we could know this incredible performance was happening in real time:
Bravo to Brennin Hunt for helping give Rent: Live a strong finish. It's not the most romantic setting to sing your heart out with your foot in an elevated cast. But he really nailed that song, and even Adam Pascal himself would be proud.
Speaking of Adam Pascal, the original Roger star was there at the end of the live show, along with his fellow original Broadway cast members Anthony Rapp, Idina Menzel, Daphne Ruben Vega, and Jesse L. Martin. They joined their Rent: Live character counterparts for a rousing rendition of "Seasons of Love." Pascal stayed on the loft set with Brennin Hunt, who wasn't able to stand and face the studio audience with the others.
It was a strong finish to a show that many fans found disappointing, mostly for the lack of live performances. You can't anticipate an injury, especially a lead actor's broken foot the day before the show, and good for Rent: Live that the show did mix so much live performing into the pre-recorded footage. But this is what happens when you don't have understudies, and don't plan for such an event.
The main Rent: Live cast included Brennin Hunt as Roger Davis, Brandon Victor Dixon as Tom Collins, Jordan Fisher as Mark Cohen, Mario as Benjamin Coffin III, Kiersey Clemons as Joanne Jefferson, Vanessa Hudgens as Maureen Johnson, and Tinashe as Mimi Marquez and Valentina as Angel
Toward the start of the show, the cast members appeared on stage to inform viewers that one of the stars had broken his leg during Saturday's performance and that "most of what you see tonight is from last night." However, during the three-hour January 27 performance, the studio audience saw their own real live show, including Brennin Hunt acting from a wheelchair, and some fans shared that footage online.
Rent: Live director Alex Rudzinski also directed Grease: Live, and had explained to reporters on Rent: Live's press day that they didn't use stand-ins. In the case of an emergency, he said they could use the backup recording from the night before, with a full dress rehearsal on tape.
Breaking my foot last night was not fun but it’s been great being back on set with everybody. I love these people so much. They’ve showered me with love and kindness which is the essence of this musical. I am just truly honored and blessed to be part of this Rent family.
At least the show had a strong ending. But this does give Fox, and any other TV network, some lessons in how to react to a last-minute crisis when it comes to live musicals. Fans really wanted a live show -- and they did get a great one at the very end. Here's what else you can look forward to watching on TV during this busy 2019 midseason.