TV Offers an All-New Live “Rent” Tonight — With Original Cast Member Cameos

Written by | Entertainment, Screen

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For those who saw its broadway-shaking theatrical run, it’s hard to believe this year marks the 20th Anniversary of the debut of Rent, Jonathan Larson’s re-imagining of Puccini’s La Boheme set among an enclave of artists struggling with identity, poverty and AIDS in gritty contemporary East Village NYC.

Tonight at 7pm, Rent becomes the latest entry in the recent trend of transforming musical theater into live television events. The cast includes pop star Vanessa Hudgens as Maureen (the role that helped launch Idina Menzel’s meteoric rise). Other cast members include Kiersey Clemons (Angie Tribeca) as Joanne, Tinashe and Mario (late of Empire) as Mimi and Benjamin, Brandon Victor Dixon (Jesus Christ Superstar’s fantastic Judas) as Tom and James Levya (pictured) — better known to Drag Race fans as Valentina — in the role of Angel. Tune in to see if they’ll launch a whole new generation of Rentheads.

As part of the festivities in tonight’s live broadcast of the musical featuring an all-new cast, original cast members are slated to make an appearance as well.

Cast members Idina Menzel (who originated the role of bisexual performance artist Maureen Johnson in the Broadway production and reprised the role in Chris Columbus’ 2005 movie), confirmed to her Twitter followers that the musical’s premiere cast will make an appearance during tonight’s show.

Anthony Rapp, who’s currently riding the crest of a career resurgence via his pivotal role on Star Trek: Discovery, is also expected to appear alongside former Rent cast members Daphne Rubin Vega (who played Mimi Marquez) and Fredi Walker (the show’s original Joanne Jefferson).

In addition, Adam Pascal (Roger Davis), Taye Diggs (“Benny” Coffin III), Wilson Jermaine Heredia (Angel Dumott Schunard) and Jesse L. Martin (Tom Collins) are thought to be on board.

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While the 2005 film version’s reception was mixed (with critics noting its cast was largely too old to convincingly capture the show’s young and hungry characters), Larson’s work remains a cultural touchstone in the history of American musical theater at a time when squalor and AIDS rant rampant through bohemian New York.

Tonight at 7pm, Rent becomes the latest entry in the recent trend of transforming musical theater into live television events. The cast includes pop star Vanessa Hudgens as Maureen (the role that helped launch Idina Menzel’s meteoric rise). Other cast members include Kiersey Clemons (Angie Tribeca) as Joanne, Tinashe and Mario (late of Empire) as Mimi and Benjamin, Brandon Victor Dixon (Jesus Christ Superstar’s fantastic Judas) as Tom and James Levya (pictured) — better known to Drag Race fans as Valentina — in the role of Angel. Tune in to see if they’ll launch a whole new generation of Rentheads.

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Last modified: January 28, 2019

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