Though the revival of the live television musical originally started out on NBC as a holiday special, the trend has been taken over by Fox, which has successfully aired a couple of live musical events in the last few years. The latest to get the treatment is Rent, the mid-1990s era groundbreaking story of impoverished artists struggling to make it in New York City. The new Rent Live! promises to be a '90s era revival performances for the ages. But fans should be asking: How long is Rent: Live?
The Rent movie ran two hours and fifteen minutes, but it was an edited down version taking advantage of the magic of film to clean up sections that usually run longer. Most stage adaptations run up to 30 minutes more. Based on Puccini's La Bohème, theater productions typically run in the 2 hours and 45-minute range. Sometimes it includes an intermission, but not always.
Fox's adaptation will run even longer, going a full three hours. Curtain up is at 8 p.m. ET, and the show is booked to run straight through to 11 p.m. At least it's not five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes long, but it might feel like it, so have those snacks at the ready.
The original Rent launched the careers of the cast who were in the original production including Anthony Rapp, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, and Taye Diggs. That's because when Rent first hit Broadway back in 1996, it was a phenomenon. Nowadays, fans take it for granted groups huddle outside the theater for shows like Hamilton, trying to get lottery tickets to see the show. But this didn't use to be a thing, at least, not until Rent came along.
Rent was the first musical where fans (known as "Rentheads") would wait outside the theater for hours to land those inexpensive $20 tickets. The hardcore Renthead felt like the show's story of living in the poverty-stricken areas of New York City during an era before gentrification was a word spoke to them. They would go see the show over and over. In an age where there were no bootlegged scenes to be watched on YouTube, it was the only way.
Now, of course, fans will be able to watch Rent Live on FOX this Sunday, and the cast is now made up of stars who have A-list level careers already, like Mario, Vanessa Hudgens, Tinashe, and Jordan Fisher. But the story, and the struggle, have not changed.
Here's the synopsis, for those who have never seen it:
The groundbreaking musical is a re-imagining of Puccini’s “La Bohème,” set in New York City’s gritty East Village, which tells the unforgettable story of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams during a time of great social and political turmoil. Writer/composer Jonathan Larson’s tour de force celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, as it continues to offer an inspiring message of hope and friendship.
Rent Live! airs on FOX this Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, at 8 p.m. ET.