La vie Boheme! FOX is gearing up for another round of live musical events, and their next one is a doozy. Jonathan Larson‘s Pulitzer-, Grammy-, and Tony-winning musical Rent will go live for musical mega-producer Marc Platt (Grease: Live, La La Land, Wicked) and the Larson’s estate. Details on the air date, cast and runtime are still incoming. Fourteen-year-old me is like, totally freaking out right now.
If you’re not familiar, Rent is Larson’s re-imagining of the Puccini opera La Boheme, translated to the gritty city streets of New York’s East Village, where a group of artistically-inclined friends struggling to make their dreams come true while contending with social and political turmoil (and yes, also rent). The musical was a vital megaphone for queer and stifled voices when it debuted 20 years ago, thrusting a spotlight on issues like AIDS, drug addiction, and poverty. The show went on to win four Tony Awards and Pulitzer Prize, and was previously on-screen in Christopher Columbus‘ 2005 film. That production brought back a number of key original cast members including Taye Diggs, Idina Menzel, Jessie L. Martin, and Adam Pascal. It will be interesting to see what casting approach FOX opts to take with their musical adaptation and if they chose to skew young or bring back some OG talent.
“Rent was Jonathan’s dream of sharing the theater and the passion he had for it with a whole new generation,” said Julie and Al Larson in a press release. “None of us could have imagined the massive impact that the messages and themes in Rent would have on the theater community or the world…except for Jonathan. We are absolutely thrilled to be continuing Jonathan’s legacy and the still-relevant themes of the show in this way.”
The characters in the show have not aged particularly well, especially in their insistence to never pay rent like any decent, hardworking citizen (with age, Benny kind of seems like a great guy who puts up with way too much shit from his friends). However, the themes are still bountiful and sadly, relevant as ever especially in a politically fraught America. I’ll be interested to see how FOX toes that line, and if they lean into the more blatantly political aspects of the story or focus more on a fun nostalgia blast a la Grease: Live.