“Live” Broadway show “Rent” fails to pay back viewers’ expectations



Audience members were infatuated y the bold and colorful performance that were carried out by Rent cast, ending with signature poses-except most of the acts were delivered on screen.

Ili Pecullan, Contributing Writer

The much-anticipated television special Rent: Live aired live on Jan. 27, greeting its audience with an all-new cast and exclusive variations of the performance.  Though some were impressed by the production, especially given that it was a partially live one, the musical as a whole failed to both meet the expectations of the audience. Moreover, it was unable to maintain its long-held reputation that has lasted over 20 years since its the original musical’s debut. 

Rent recounts the story of young artists who once struggled to survive and make a living in Manhattan.  The group deals with tragedy, love, and other life obstacles in the modern day world.

Directed by Michael Greif and Alex Rudzinski, the performance was overseen as an original Broadway production.  Notable cast members included Vanessa Hudgens as Maureen, Jordan Fisher as Mark, and Tinashe as Mimi.  Other cast members, Brennin Hunt, Brandon Victor Dixon, Valentina, Kiersy Clemons, and Mario, elevated the overall show production through a variety of different personalities and performances.

“Jordan Fisher’s performance of Mark was extraordinarily perfect,” said freshman Jae Longaro.  “It just looked like he was having so much fun, and that brought loads of light into the show.”  

However, viewers felt that the performers did not perform to their full potential.  While the public was pleased with Hudgens and Fisher’s performances, the audience was disappointed with those put on by Tinashe and Valentina.

“I particularly enjoyed Jordan Fisher and Vanessa Hudgens, Mark and Maureen, respectively.  I think if they had known that the performance they were putting on was the one that would be televised, maybe it would have been better,” said junior Derek Weisburd.

Unfortunately, many viewers were disappointed at the fact that the majority of the film lacked basic theatrical features, specifically in its claim to be a “live” musical.  The night before the live performance was supposed to air, actor Brennin Hunt, who played Roger, one of the main characters in the show, injured his foot.  As a result, the dress rehearsal was filmed and shown to the audience for most of the night until the very end when the show then progressed to be live.

Many viewers were disappointed by the fact that the “live” show was actually just a compilation of films that were put together hastily. 

“I thought that all the actors weren’t on their A game because they weren’t expecting the dress rehearsal to be aired,” said freshman Amy Baxter. 

Audience members were not the only ones to point out the flaws of the production; critics also gave the performance negative reviews.  Some were disappointed at its faulty title of being “live” and the overall product that cast members gave, which many found to be lacking.

“How do you measure three hours of chaotic visuals and middling audio most of us were never meant to see and hear?”  said assistant television editor Aisha Harris from The New York Times. “The cameras swooped around the sprawling stage erratically, without any ostensible purpose other than to distinguish this from feeling like a theater production.”

In addition, the popular critics’ webpage Rotten Tomatoes gave the broadcast a 29 percent. 

“Personally, I thought Rent Live wasn’t the best television musical, but wasn’t the worst either,” said Longaro.  “You have to remember that it was a dress rehearsal, so chances are they weren’t going to go full out and ruin their voices for the next day.” 

Overall, the performance met some, but definitely not all, expectations.  In terms of it being an original Broadway production, many viewers found the show to be contradictory in that aspect and thought that it wasn’t nearly as high quality as it should have been. 

While there were some highlights, the fact that the dress rehearsal was aired seemed to lessen the audience’s ability to enjoy and be excited about the show.