“We’ve been in the trenches with each other for almost eight weeks now,” Mario tells Good Morning America hosts Michael Strahan and Sarah Haines of his co-star Brandon Victor Dixon.
The Grammy-nominated performer will play Benny to Dixon's Tom Collins in Fox's upcoming live presentation of Rent, airing January 27 at 8PM. The full cast has been in consistent rehearsal for the past two months with director Michael Greif and television director Alex Rudzinski preparing for the broadcast of Jonathan Larson’s musical.
Strahan asked Mario and Dixon how rehearsals have been going. “Now that we're on the stage—we have the production there—we're really getting comfortable with each other and sitting in our characters and really bringing it to life and it feels like home,” said Mario. “It’s in my DNA at this point.”
Still, once the cameras turn on and the show goes live, anything can happen. “The scariest part of the show,” said Dixon, “is giving what you want to give. We think about the story we want to tell, how we want to sing it and how we want to dance it. The scary thing is [if you’re] not doing exactly what you planned on.”
Rent marks Mario’s first major foray into musical theatre, though he earned two Grammy nominations in 2006 and has appeared on screen in movies like Step Up and Freedom Writers; Dixon, who earned an Emmy nod for Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert (his first foray into live musical telecasts) is a two-time Tony-nominated performer, earning nods for The Color Purple and Shuffle Along. He was a producer on the Tony-winning revival Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Watch the full video clip above to hear from both of the stars.