Even though musical fans who tuned into Fox to watch a live performance of Rent didn’t get to see much that was actually, well, live, viewers on the set enjoyed much more.
After the first commercial break of the broadcast of Jonathan Larson’s Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning show, producers revealed that because star Brennin Hunt had broken his foot during Saturday’s dress rehearsal, they would air prerecorded portions of the program instead.
Meanwhile, on Sunday night, the cast took the stage — which was almost entirely cleared out to make room for Hunt’s wheelchair — for a minimalist but still live version of the rock musical.
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The clips from the performance that Fox released include Vanessa Hudgens, who followed legendary performer Idina Menzel as Maureen Johnson, singing “Over The Moon,” as well as “Seasons of Love,” one of the most iconic songs from the show. Video was also released of some of the show’s other selections — Mimi Marquez’s (Tinashe) “Out Tonight” and “I’ll Cover You” featuring Brandon Victor Dixon.
Footage from fans posted to Twitter also show some great behind-the-scenes moments. In one, Tinashe pushed Hunt in his wheelchair across the stage as the audience went wild. In another, viewers giggled as Tinashe gently rocked Hunt back and forth while serenading him with “No Day But Today.”
On Sunday evening, the announcement about the change of plans was made with the entire cast grouped together on stage.
“Last night during our performance in front of a live audience, one of our cast members sustained an injury,” Hudgens explained. “A visit to the hospital confirmed that Brennin Hunt, our Roger, broke his foot and will be unable to perform tonight.”
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“But Rent has always been about community, resiliency and bouncing back, so the show must go on,” continued Valentina, who played Angel.
Added Jordan Fisher, Rent Live’s Mark: “Most of what you’ll see tonight comes will from last night’s performance, but we have all rallied together to rework the final act so all of us can perform it for you live.”
All banded together in the end to quote Larson’s inspiring message of resilience: “No day but today.”
Prior to the show, Fox Entertainment & 20th Century Fox Television opened up about Hunt’s injury in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
“Last night during a live performance of FOX’s production of Rent, one of the actors, Brennin Hunt, was injured,” the statement read. “But in the spirit of Rent, everyone – producers and cast, original and current — is dedicated to ensuring that tonight’s broadcast must, and will, go on.”
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According to Variety, Hunt was injured ahead of the musical’s final act. Although production momentary paused, Hunt reportedly finished the rehearsal.
Following the conclusion of the rehearsal, Hunt was taken to a hospital to assess the extent of his injury, the outlet reported.
“The experience of putting together this beautiful new production of my brother’s work, while emotional, has been truly joyous for all of us. This new cast has embodied the spirit of the show from day one and they embraced Brennin with positive and uplifting love in his moment of need,” executive producer Julie Larson said in another statement. “Rent has always been about resilience and community. I speak from my heart when I say that we have a spectacular show for you tonight. We can’t wait for a new generation to experience Jonathan’s legacy.”
Fox’s production of Rent — directed by the musical’s original Broadway director Michael Grief (stage direction) and Alex Rudzinski (TV direction) — was produced by Larson’s estate alongside Mark Platt (Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, Grease Live, La La Land, Wicked).
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