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Rent Musical.jpg

Vive La Vie Boheme: Rent Will Be Fox’s Next Live Musical

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Industry | May 15, 2017 |

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Industry | May 15, 2017 |

The recent resurgence of the live TV musical has yielded mixed results. While some brought new life to familiar material under impeccable direction (NBC’s The Wiz and Fox’s Grease), others seemed destined to become bad movie classics for all your drinking needs (NBC’s Peter Pan Live, wherein Christopher Walken as Captain Hook found new ways to give even less fucks than usual). Regardless of critical merit - or musical theatre nerd satisfaction - the trend seems set to continue for a few years more, and Fox is carving out a niche of a slightly edgier tone in comparison to the family friendly fare of NBC. Following Grease and the very mixed bag of The Rocky Horror Show Live, they’re now bringing the multiple Tony winning Rent to the small screen.

Rent, the landmark 90s musical by Jonathan Larson, has left behind one hell of a legacy: A 12 year Broadway run, a Pulitzer Prize, the launching pad for many a career (most notably Idina Menzel), a truly awful movie adaptation, and a parody in Team America: World Police. The re-imagining of Puccini’s moves the setting to 80s New York, and the tuberculosis epidemic of the opera changed to the AIDS crisis of the era. It’s a show with a hugely dedicated fan-base, known as Rentheads, and its fair share of critics (for the ultimate take-down of the musical, check out Lindsay Ellis’s video essay). Still, following on from Rocky Horror and Grease, it’s a choice that fits with Fox’s desire to skew younger than the more traditional choices of NBC’s musicals. No casting has been announced yet - leave your fan-castings in the comments - so here’s hoping they get some age appropriate choices and don’t bring back the original cast like the movie did (yes, they were totally young starving artists and not 30 somethings over the entire affair, honestly).

If you love the live TV musical trend, or just enjoy the inevitable live-tweeting frenzies, then don’t worry because there’s plenty more coming up: Fox is also doing a live-adaptation of the musical version of A Christmas Story, NBC is doing Jesus Christ Superstar, A Few Good Men (the first non-musical theatrical staging of this era), and Bye Bye Birdie with Jennifer Lopez, while ABC will air a non-live TV movie of Dirty Dancing with Abigail Breslin.

What musical would you like to see given the TV treatment? For me, I’m still holding out hope for a live TV take on Cabaret, a wonderful musical that’s in no way relevant to anything going on in the world right now.

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Kayleigh is a features writer for Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter or listen to her podcast, The Hollywood Read.