Brandon Victor Dixon, Vanessa Hudgens, Keala Settle, Jordan Fisher Set for Fox's Rent Live!

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by Andy Lefkowitz • Oct 29, 2018

No day but today! Casting is here for Fox's upcoming live TV presentation of Jonathan Larson's Tony-winning musical Rent. Two-time Tony nominee Brandon Victor Dixon, Vanessa Hudgens, Tony nominee Keala Settle and Jordan Fisher are among the group of actors who will perform the hit show for television audiences next year. Original Rent casting director Bernard Telsey compiled the company for the television event, titled Rent Live!, airing on January 27, 2019 at 7:00pm ET.

Dixon (Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert) will take on the role of Tom Collins, with Hudgens (Gigi) as Maureen Johnson, Fisher (Hamilton) as Mark Cohen, Settle (The Greatest Showman) as the "Seasons of Love" soloist, newcomer Brennin Hunt (Nashville) as Roger Davis, pop star Mario (Empire) as Benny, recording artist Tinashe (Dancing with the Stars) as Mimi and celebrated performer Valentina (RuPaul's Drag Race) as Angel.

We've also learned that original Tony-nominated Rent director Michael Greif will repeat his duties to helm the live TV presentation.

Larson's beloved musical about a group of friends surviving and thriving in New York City at the height of the AIDS crisis has garnered numerous awards, including the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical and a Pulitzer Prize. A film version was made in 2005 starring many of the original cast members. There have been countless productions of the favorited tuner all over the world since it bowed on the Great White Way.

Fox's past musical events include the highly successful Grease: Live and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

https://www.broadway.com/buzz/193826/brandon-victor-dixon-vanessa-hudgens-keala-settle-jordan-fisher-set-for-foxs-rent-live/

Updated On: 10/29/18 at 01:52 PM
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Jordan Fisher as Mark feels... wrong.

 

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My gut was telling me it would've been Ben Platt, plus that's who most fans wanted, but I'm interested in Fisher taking on the role. He also has done very well for himself since Grease Live.

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I just don't think a Rent live is going to do so well
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Brandon Victor Dixon, Vanessa Hudgens, Keala Settle, Jordan Fisher Set for Fox's Rent Live!

 

My thoughts about this line - "celebrated performer Valentina (RuPaul's Drag Race) as Angel."

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I'm excited to see Tinashe's acting chops. Vanessa Hudgens is great in everything she does, but I wish Maureen would've went to Liz Gillies. She would've been perfection. 

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WOW. WHAT A CAST. I'm hoping this will be the best live musical yet.
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This is... a very unexciting cast.

"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."
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Also

Brandon is 37.  Keala is 42.  Have we not learned our lesson about casting older people as the 20 year olds RENT focuses on?  Because it's kinda pathetic and hard to listen to when there are 20 year olds playing those characters.  It's impossibly pathetic and hard to listen to when they're over 30 (as the movie showed). 

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To be fair, Keala Settle is just playing the "Seasons of Love" soloist. She's not a named character.

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Fisher as Mark is a super interesting choice. Mark to me always seemed partially defined by his privilege - parents who love him/good family, white, straight, sober, and HIV negative. A huge part of his character is the question of "why are you here, Mark? This is not your fight. This has nothing to do with you." and where there is room for 'supporting a friend' vs 'making it about you'.

So a non-white Mark is an interesting choice. I will be really interested to see how that effects his character. 

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I always got the sense that Collins (a character supposedly inspired by Tom Waits) was older than the others, the ex-professor of the group instead of a dropout.

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The involvement of the Larson estate at least makes me hope that the production won't be sanitized for Prime Time, like the movie was.

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Roscoe said: "The involvement of the Larson estate at least makes me hope that the production won't be sanitized for Prime Time, like the movie was."

 

The Larson estate was involved with the 2005 film version as well. 

 

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Sondheimite said: "Also

Brandon is 37. Keala is 42. Have we not learned our lesson about casting older people as the 20 year olds RENT focuses on? Because it's kinda pathetic and hard to listen to when there are 20 year olds playing those characters. It's impossibly pathetic and hard to listen to when they're over 30 (as the movie showed).
"

Keala Settle isn't playing a character.  She shows up to sing one song then leaves, because I can't imagine they're not splitting the "Mark's Mom and others" track.

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Roscoe said: "The involvement of the Larson estate at least makes me hope that the production won't be sanitized for Prime Time, like the movie was."

 

SethMH93 said "The Larson estate was involved with the 2005 film version as well"

 

Oh, well.

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darquegk said: "I always got the sense that Collins (a character supposedly inspired by Tom Waits) was older than the others, the ex-professor of the group instead of a dropout."

Collins has to be older, no? I don't think that he would have been able to do all that he says he's done if were a twentysomething like the rest of them.

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I don't think all of these characters are supposed to be early 20s. Certain characters like Joanne and Collins are supposed to be an attorney and a college professor, respectively. So they would at a minimum be over 25, possibly older.

And I think Roger, Mark, Maureen etc have to at least be a few years out of college for their pessimistic view of the world to be rooted in anything


I'd guess

Mark, Roger and Maureen are between 24-27
Collins and Joanne are in their 30s
Mimi and Angel are the young ones.
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It appears that the actor playing Roger's music experience is mainly county. I wonder if they'll put that spin on the role at all? 

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hmaybway said: "It appears that the actor playing Roger's music experience is mainly county. I wonder if they'll put that spin on the role at all?"

Oh, god.

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I think casting someone from "RuPaul's Drag Race" as Angel is an inspired choice and a good move in terms of publicity but...Valentina? 

I'm also a bit puzzled by Jordan Fisher as Mark. 

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Kiersey Clemons is the most exciting thing about this announcement. She’s fantastic.
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