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"Rent" wasn't quite live on Sunday night, here's why

Due to a major cast member injury, "Rent" on Fox used rehearsal footage.
Photo credit:
Rent - Fox

The Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent was supposed to be live on Sunday night, but fans were given a disclaimer as the show began on FOX that some of the scenes had been pre-recorded. 

Daniel Reynolds, a reporter at The Advocateexplained in a recent article why the show would go on, but not in real-time as expected, at least portions of it. 

It all happened at the dress rehearsal on Saturday. Daniels says the press and industry insiders were invited to see the show a day before it aired as production made their final adjustments. 

"Although it was a rehearsal," Daniel writes, "an announcer explained beforehand that the performance would be taped — in the offhand chance that this footage would be needed at any point during the live broadcast."

And luckily for them, they did.

In an effort to keep the continuity flowing and accommodate network commercial breaks, the rehearsal also contained four-to-five minute pauses which is were the ads would air and actors and props would make their adjustments. 

The last commercial "break" was when attendees became concerned after the countdown timer to air expired but nothing happened. Daniels says a "surprise" was promised to the audience. "This would turn out to be the appearance of the original 1996 Rent cast, an act that would repeat itself on Sunday — but this was ultimately not the reason for the delay."

Time stood still and the crowd grew restless, wondering why nothing was happening. Daniels observed guests trying to leave but were instructed to stay until after the final curtain. 

"Finally, Marc Platt, an executive producer of the show, came onstage to inform audience members that actor Brennin Hunt, who portrayed Roger Davis in Rent, had "rolled" — "broke," by others' hearing —  his ankle backstage. Audience members gasped. Platt assured them that the show would go on and that Hunt would finish the production with some modifications."

Hunt eventually made it back on stage, but had to be propped up by stagehands. 

Writes Reynolds, "The audience cheered him on as he took a place sitting on a table, from which he performed the final number, with his legs held up and out by a chair. Since Mimi was also lying on this table — and much of the energetic dancing had already occurred in previous scenes — the songs were not as awkward as they might have been."

The injury resulted in the subsequent delay of only about a half-hour and Hunt was then taken to the hospital where it was confirmed he had broken his foot.

What was seen on Sunday's "live" broadcast was mostly of the dress rehearsal where Hunt was still stomping around in his heavy boots. 

The finale was live in the traditional sense as Hunt delivered his song "Your Eyes" to a dying Mimi. 

Overall the production got positive reviews from viewers although they criticized the absence of an understudy.

They also thought some performers might have held back, thinking they would save their best for the Sunday night performance.

You can read Daniel Reynolds full article HERE