Although Fox's Rent: Live was originally intended to be fully performed live on air, as its title suggests, the show kicked off with a surprising disclaimer: the words "previously recorded" flashed beneath the opening scene. While fans may have been hopeful that part of the show would be live and only certain scenes wouldn't be performed live, an unfortunate snag upended the plans. So, if you are wondering about was Rent: Live previously recorded, here's what you need to know.
Unfortunately, Rent: Live was not able to go on as planned due to an accident during the dress rehearsal a day ahead of Sunday night's live show. Actor Brennin Hunt, who played the lead role of rocker Roger Davis, suffered an ankle injury during the final dress rehearsal, and was unable to fully perform his role during the live show. The show that was broadcast on Sunday night heavily featured recordings from that previous dress rehearsal because of this, and because Roger is such a major part of Rent, the broadcast wound up mainly being previously recorded because of Hunt's injury.
The Rent: Live cast addressed the the issue in a brief message before the first commercial break. The cast confirmed that Brennin Hunt had broken his foot during an accident at Saturday night's dress rehearsal, and because he could no longer stand up, the bulk of the broadcast would consist of a previous recording from Saturday's dress rehearsal. The cast also shared that there would be one big live number, though, at the very end of the show. In the message, the cast said that Brennin Hunt would be able to join the rest of the cast for a live finale number, so viewers can at least look forward to one live number.
But just because the Fox broadcast was mostly pre-recorded, that did not mean that the Rent: Live cast just took the night off. While viewers at home watched recordings from Saturday night's final dress rehearsal from before Brennin Hunt broke his foot, the live show still went on at the actual staging of the musical event. Of course, Hunt was not able to do any of the dance moves or most of the blocking required of the role due to his injury, but he still performed as Roger in a wheelchair.
Although it is customary for live plays and musicals to use understudies in case an actor suffers and injury or cannot go on, these live network musicals that have began airing over the past several years have never used understudies. Instead, networks customarily filmed dress rehearsals to air pre-recorded scenes in case of an actor injury. In 2016, Fox prepared a similar plan for Grease: Live when rain threatened to ruin outdoor scenes that were meant to be performed live during the broadcast.
Thankfully, the recordings from Rent: Live's final dress rehearsal proved to be just as moving and enthusiastic as the fully live performance may have been, so the show was able to go on just fine despite the hitch in the plans.