Rent is now joining the ever-growing canon of live musicals on television. Set to air January 27 on Fox, the cast features some Broadway favorites, including Brandon Victor Dixon and Keala Settle. Here are some fun Rent tidbits you might not know!
Future Tony Award Winners
Not only did the original production receive a slew of Tony nominations and wins, some of the actors’ replacements went on to become Tony award winners, too! The West Coast premiere of Rent in 1997 featured Neil Patrick Harris as Mark, while Broadway saw future Hamilton Tony winner Renée Elise Goldsberry as Mimi and two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz made his Main Stem debut covering both Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal.
The Song That Sold The Show
Producers Jeffrey Seller and Kevin McCollum came to see a presentation of Rent when Jonathan Larson was looking to get the show produced. At that point, the show was still messy but “Light My Candle” was basically the same version we all know. That song was all it took for them to tell Jonathan they wanted to produce it!
Eyes Wide Shut
Adam Pascal auditioned for Rent because his high school friend was cast in the show and told him they were looking for an actor with a real rock voice. The friend in question? Idina Menzel! Adam went to the audition, had a few call backs, and at his final audition director Michael Greif told him they were concerned that he sang all of his songs with his eyes closed, like he was doing a rock concert. They wanted to know if he could perform an entire song with his eyes open. Adam realized they wanted to know if he could act! Michael asked him to sing “Without You” while looking into Mimi’s eyes. Unfortunately, Daphne Rubin-Vega wasn’t available for his audition so Adam had to sing the entire love song while looking into the eyes of the only available Mimi… casting director Bernie Telsey! He obviously nailed it because he got the role, a Tony nomination, and the movie role as well!
One Song, One Move
Adam’s big song as Roger in Act 1 is “One Song Glory.” Those who have seen it know that Roger sings most of the song sitting on the couch. Well, that creative staging was based on necessity. Adam couldn’t remember the lyrics so he had them written and then placed on the coffee table onstage. He sat on the couch for the verses of the song because he was literally reading the lyrics! Then, when it seemed to us that the emotion made him stand up and sing “Glory! One blaze of glory,” he was actually standing because it was the only time he felt comfortable walking away from the coffee table. He told me that he had those printed lyrics for the entire run Off-Broadway and it wasn’t until the show had been running for months on Broadway that Michael Greif told him he had to get rid of them!
Tune in to Rent: Live at 8PM ET on Fox.