"It feels a bit weird to critique what was almost entirely a recorded dress rehearsal. How do you measure three hours of chaotic visuals and middling audio most of us were never meant to see and hear? Mostly in disappointment, I guess, though this is what Fox gave us." This was written by Aisha Harris the day after "RENT live" was performed "live." ("RENT Live" Review)
"RENT" is a very well known musical adored by the American public since its first current call in 1996. The basic storyline of the musical is following the lives of people through the AIDS and HIV crisis, and how they unite through the obstacles of life with this disease and show love and compassion for one another. Even though it is not so much a family-friendly musical like "The Sound of Music" or "The Wiz," the initial effect of the well known musical really got a lot of people who love "RENT" really excited. Not to mention that there were a lot of well-known celebrities in the live version like Jordan Fisher, Brennin Hunt, Vanessa Hudgens, and Kiersey Clemons; as well as some of the cast members from the first Broadway cast.
However, unexpectedly Brennin Hunt injured his foot during a dress rehearsal so what viewers saw on the supposed "live" broadcast was a previously recorded dress rehearsal, and only the last 15 minutes or so were live. Hashtags like #RentNotLive and #RentKindaLive trended during the broadcast. This introduces my first major disappointment from the live musicals. Even though it hasn't been a problem in the past when these live musicals start rehearsals producers do not cast understudies for any of the roles. However, in professional theatre companies, there are understudies to go in at any moment of the show, if something does end up going wrong. If the dress rehearsal was not recorded previously there would have.
Another complaint that a lot of people were really upset with is the over-dramatic use of the cameras, as well as the sound problems. Obviously, this was a dress rehearsal so the tech team wasn't at their best, but it really took away from important parts in the show as well as not being able to hear certain songs and lines sung and spoken by cast members
Even though there were a lot worse things that happened, there were some real highlights that I really liked, for example, Vanessa Hudgens as the flighty performance artist and activist Maureen and Kiersey Clemons as her uptight lawyer girlfriend, Joanne, performing "Take Me or Leave Me." It's a fun duet brimming with flirtations and frustrations. There acting and vocal really shined in this part of the performance, even if it was a dress rehearsal.
Live musicals are really a hit or miss, and unfortunately, "RENT" was a flop. If big broadcasters still want to continue with the live musicals there are definitely a lot of things that they need to change. Broadway and TV are really two different things. I feel bad for these hard-working performers didn't get to put on the show that they had signed up for. Hopefully, this was a learning experience.