OK, so Rent Live wasn’t exactly live, but it still reached moments of musical theater glory. This was undoubtedly a more ambitious and riskier choice to bring to TV than say, The Sound of Music or Peter Pan. Despite losing leading actor Brennin Hunt just hours before airtime (which led to a controversial decision to air segments from the pre-recorded dress rehearsal instead), the team still pulled together a show that left us grateful and heartbroken and hopeful. Here are our seven favorite moments from the Sunday night broadcast of Rent Live.
1. That set.
We’re counting this as a moment. Set design for Broadway is hard. Set design for Broadway for TV is really hard. And this team nailed it. The set managed to be present but not overpowering in basically every shot. It looked and felt like what you find on the Great White Way, and that was exactly the point.
2. Vanessa Hudgens making us all want to own a pair of cow pants.
Right??? That’s no easy feat, people.
3. Vanessa Hudgens and Kiersey Clemons killing their duet.
We’re just going to say it. We were a little nervous about how Hudgens would hold up next to some of the more seasoned theater vets. It turned out that she not only put our nerves to bed; she made us wonder how we ever doubted her in the first place. The 30-year-old star (who once told us that her dream Broadway role would be Satine from Moulin Rouge) was a revelation, as was the lesser-known Clemons. In fact, their chemistry struck us more than that of any other couple.
4. The tableography of La Vie Boheme.
Tableography might be a word we just made up (we’re honestly not sure), but we’re running with it. So many Broadway shows incorporate tables in dance numbers – most recently, Head Over Heels – but few succeed at making the most of that giant piece of furniture. Kudos to the Rent choreographers who cracked this code.
5. Jordan Fisher, in all his glory.
He’s just so, so good. From his first step on stage until the final bow, the former Hamilton cast-member and Dancing With the Stars alum was pretty much perfection. He delivered a polished performance that showcased the talents that put Broadway performers in such a special class. From singing to dancing to acting, he did it all, and more than that, he made it look effortless. Even in up-close camera shots, there was no labored breathing or sweating. Well, barely any sweating.
6. The tributes to Jonathan Larson.
The creative team of Rent Live made sure to give credit to the show’s original creator, Jonathan Larson. Additionally, they worked in some context about his intentions for the show (he wanted to modernize La Boheme) and his own life (he died suddenly on the morning of Rent‘s first off-Broadway preview). The tributes were short and sweet — and highly effective in giving viewers a home, many of whom were likely unfamiliar with Larson, a sense of connection they otherwise probably would have missed.
7. The original cast singing Seasons of Love
In case you forgot – the original cast of rent was made up of some of the most talented humans to grace the stage, ever. The evening ended with the original squad joining the new cast to sing the show’s most iconic song. As a quick refresher, this group included Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs (they were married for a while too ICYMI), Anthony Rapp, Jesse L. Martin, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Adam Pascal (who recently took a turn as Edward Lewis in Pretty Woman) to name a few.