There's no day but Jan. 27 to watch Rent: Live semi-live following a key cast member's ankle injury, but before the show even began, fans ran into trouble nearly as bad as not paying the rent. For some viewers, FOX cut out before Rent: Live began, but here's hoping this isn't a bad sign for how the production fares.
Just as any teen drama about a school play would prove, the last 24 hours before FOX's long-waited broadcast of Rent: Live had exciting highs and devastating lows. The network confirmed that the original Broadway cast of Rent, many of whom starred in the 2005 film adaptation, would make cameos in the live show, but drastic news hit the internet only hours before showtime. Brennin Hunt, who plays HIV-positive musician Roger, broke his ankle during a dress rehearsal on Jan. 26, meaning that the production unexpectedly turned to prerecorded footage for the majority of the broadcast. Toss in the fact that many viewers' TV connections gave out right before and during the beginning of Rent: Live, and it was clear that the show was experiencing a start even rockier than most live theater.
While the cable outage wasn't universal, it happened for enough FOX viewers that it's unclear what exactly caused the issue. Some Rentheads experiencing the problem called out their Optimum packages, while others singled out the Spectrum service.
Ironically, in Rent, Maureen Johnson's protest show initially has technical difficulties, but the act goes on, and although the FOX feed originally seemed to deliver varying results, it followed suit. Cable connections returned in full force, but for some theater fans, the fact that Rent: Live wasn't, well, live had taken away some of the show's appeal.
Rent's message of living life to the fullest has particularly lasted throughout the years because of the nature of how the musical first began its off-Broadway run. Composer Jonathan Larson, who wrote the show's book, music, and lyrics, died suddenly on the day Rent was set to begin previews, but the cast performed a reading of the show in their creator's honor. Given this "the-show-must-go-on" attitude back in the day, the fact that the new production abandoned its live aspect after Hunt's injury has understandably disappointed fans.
In the event's first commercial break, the cast appeared in a prerecorded message to inform viewers of the unexpected mishap. They revealed that they reworked their live finale number to incorporate Hunt and the original Broadway cast. Shortly after the message, Twitter users in Rent: Live's audience proceeded to post videos of the cast performing alongside their dress rehearsal playing on TV. Well, at least someone's getting a live show, right?
Nothing is ever perfect in live theater, but here's to this cast for making the best of their unfortunate situation. It may not have happened the way they planned, but there's no day but today to enjoy their unique Rent experience. As for FOX's shaky cable connections, the network might want to prepare for fans' fiery choruses of "La Vie Boheme" outside its offices.