The fate of live TV musicals after “Rent: Live”

Written by Gabby Bach, A&E Writer

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Rent: Live debuted on Fox with rather mixed reviews all because of one tragic incident. Actor Brennin Hunt, who played Roger, broke his ankle during a final dress rehearsal near the end of the second act. He had to be rushed to the ER and placed in a cast. A decision was made by the executive team early the next morning to air pre-taped footage from that dress rehearsal and then go live to end the musical with an appearance by the original Broadway cast of Rent. Those in the studio audience were treated to a concert version of the show.

Many fans were disappointed by this outcome, which resulted in Rent: Live being the lowest-rated live TV musical since the idea started with The Sound of Music: Live, which premiered on NBC in 2013.

After this data was made publicly available, NBC decided to cancel its production of Hair: Live in favor of pursuing more “family-friendly” options. As of now, there are no currently scheduled live TV musicals. This leaves many questioning as to whether this is a trend that has quickly died out.

I personally believe Rent: Live was not as horrific as many make it out to be. While the footage used during the performance was not perfect, and the cast likely would have performed better had the show been live, I still found enjoyment in the production.

It is a common trend for people to dislike watching live TV musicals. Rent: Live was definitely not an exception in this case, especially considering the plethora of opportunities offered to diss on the performance. One major complaint, besides the show not being live, was the censorship of certain lyrics within the show because of their racy, controversial, and outright rebellious nature. Because the musical was airing prime time on a Sunday night, the TV network inevitably had to change lyrics to make them less inappropriate. There is often a heavy mention of sex and sexual innuendos within the musical’s original script. These types of comments will not fly on live TV, so they had to be changed or reworded to fit their target demographic. As a result, many viewers feel that the show lost part of its spirit with these changes in lyrics.

I would love to see more live TV musicals, but the general lack of enthusiasm surrounding them makes it very unlikely that they will resurface in the near future.

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