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FOX’s ‘Rent: Live’ unexciting, subpar

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FOX’s overwhelmingly hyped production of the musical “Rent” aired Jan. 27. However, the production failed to live up to lofty expectations.

Initial problems, like airing a pre-recorded dress rehearsal after an actor broke his foot instead of performing live, dampered hopes for an amazing show right away. While this is certainly a disappointment and an example of why understudies are important, this does not factor much into my enjoyment of the production.

What does factor into my reaction is the subpar musical and acting performances of nearly every cast member.

In the role of Mark, Jordan Fisher struggled to keep up the energy and vocal consistency necessary for such a crucial role. “La Vie Boheme,” perhaps the most recognizable song from “Rent,” was an especially low point, with several unnecessary attempts at riffs and note changes.

Well-known drag queen Valentina also struggled in her role as Angel, showing that she may not have the vocal training to pull off a Broadway level performance. While she definitely looked the part, her singing and acting left much to be desired.

Some roles were woefully miscast, one being Collins, played by Brandon Victor Dixon. Dixon showcased his tenor range beautifully in a live television production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” but couldn’t find his voice in the baritone range needed for the heartbreaking reprise of “I’ll Cover You.”

Many of the other roles, especially Joanne (Kiersey Clemons) and Roger (Brennin Hunt) were simply undersung, devoid of the emotion contribution that makes “Rent” so memorable.

Tinashe, playing Mimi, was the highlight of the production. She had the best vocal performance, her rendition of “Out Tonight” being the only song I may willingly listen to again. Vanessa Hudgens as Maureen also gave a decent vocal performance, but lacked any kind of emotion, even with Clemons, who played her girlfriend.

The cast of “Rent” looks great on paper, but in practice, no role really stood out as exceptional, even those who gave a good performance.

Perhaps the most puzzling thing about “Rent: Live” were the lyrical changes and inconsistent censorship. Some lyrics were changed for seemingly no reason, and the plot wasn’t altered or clarified by these changes.

Some lyric changes were for a reason, such as the censorship of certain words that can’t be broadcasted on national television. Certain instances made sense, like Mark’s profanity in “Tango: Maureen.” However, the censorship was often inconsistent. In “La Vie Boheme” “piss” is changed to “puke,” but the line “mucho masturbation” is left as-is. I certainly didn’t expect FOX not to change some of the profanity, but if they were going to do so, consistency would have served them better.

Altogether, “Rent: Live” showcased several actors and vocalists who are talented, but no one’s skill shone through and no one gave an outstanding performance. Unfortunately, “Rent: Live” failed to live up to the hype and delivered in neither vocal performance nor acting.

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)
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FOX’s ‘Rent: Live’ unexciting, subpar