Fox's Sunday night "live" production of Rent didn't quite live up to its title.
After actor Brennin Hunt injured his foot a day before the show was set to broadcast to millions of viewers, the network opted to play a mostly recorded version of the musical from Saturday's dress rehearsal. Unlike a normal show on Broadway, there were no understudies for the main cast, so producers were left with limited options.
"Breaking my foot last night was not fun, but it's been great being back on set with everybody," Hunt told his followers via Instagram on Sunday night.
"I love these people so much. They've showered me with love and kindness, which is the essence of this musical, and I am just truly honored and blessed to be a part of this Rent family, and I hope you guys enjoy tonight."
Details of how the network would work around Hunt's injury were confirmed when the cast released a prerecorded video after one of the show's commercial breaks.
“Most of what you’ll see tonight will come from last night’s performance,” said Jordan Fisher, who took on the role of Mark. The cast then let viewers know that, because of Hunt's unexpected injury, they'd come together to "rework the final act" so they could perform it live with him and the original 1996 Broadway cast, which included memorable performers like Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, Adam Pascal, Jesse L. Martin, Anthony Rapp, and many more.
This meant Hunt sat on a table for most of the last 15 minutes, which did air live.
For those who were actually in the audience, the show was still performed live on Sunday, with Hunt being pushed around in a wheelchair by the singer Tinashe, who played Mimi.
The muddled show was not met with a warm reception in some quarters. "It feels a bit weird to critique what was almost entirely a recorded dress rehearsal," wrote the New York Times reviewer. "How do you measure three hours of chaotic visuals and middling audio most of us were never meant to see and hear?"
When asked for information on what went wrong, a Fox spokesperson said, "Producers are not available and prefer to let the telecast speak for itself."
The legendary musical Rent revolves around seven artists struggling to follow their dreams in New York City's East Village amid the AIDS crisis.
Rent's writer and composer, Jonathan Larson, died before seeing how impactful his work would be on a generation of theater-lovers.
The original Broadway production went on to win four Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize.