Headlines, bread lines — blow my mind! During FOX’s live production of ‘RENT’, original cast member Idina Menzel sent her love to Vanessa Hudgens, who took on the daunting task of playing her iconic role, Maureen.
While many Rentheads might’ve been skeptical when FOX announced their live, network television broadcast of RENT, perhaps now they can take solace in the fact an original cast member is singing the production’s praises. During the show, Idina Menzel, who originate the role of bisexual performance artist Maureen on Broadway, sent out a tweet to the cast and her successor Vanessa Hudgens, proclaiming she was, dare we say, over the moon about V-Hudge. “Just watched @VanessaHudgens absolutely kill it during take me or leave me,” she wrote on Twitter. “So proud of you Vanessa!” What’s more, Idina actually watched Vanessa live as she ant the full original Broadway cast and movie cast of RENT joined the current players in an epic finale reunion to sing ‘Seasons Of Love’. All night long, Idina chilled back stage with Tracie Thoms, Rosario Dawson, Daphne Rubin Vega and Fredi Walker, watching the show together. Now THAT is how you celebrate a 20th show anniversary.
Idina, who was nominated for Tony for the role, reprised her iconic portrayal of Maureen for the film version in 2005, but was clearly only too happy to hand of the baton to Vanessa to bring this show to a new generation. Interestingly, Vanessa confessed in an interview with Playbill.com that she had actually never heard of the revolutionary show before being cast in it the first time. (Vanessa previously played the role of Mimi Rodgers in a live production at the Hollywood Bowl in 2010.) And furthermore, it may further surprise fans to know that since being cast, she’s yet to listen to or watch any performances by Idina. “[Creator] Jonathan Larson’s whole thing was about finding his true, authentic voice as an artist, and that inspires me so much,” Vanessa explained to Playbill.com. “So I’ve been trying to take the same approach in finding who Maureen is to me and making sure that is true.”
It’s a difficult feat to be sure, as RENT fans have always gravitated towards the diva character Maureen in spite of her narcissistic antics, and that takes give Maureen a sense of vulnerability underneath all the abrasiveness. However, there are others who don’t care for the show and while speaking to Vanessa at a press conference before the live show, she shared with HollywoodLife and the press how she felt about any potential backlash for the show from more conservative viewers. “Art is art,” she said. “If you’re expressing yourself honestly, you’re never going to be able to win everyone over, but I think that’s what is so beautiful about this show is that it is it’s own self expression. And maybe not everyone will be there for it, but we’re not doing it for those people, we’re doing it for who are here and who do know the show and who maybe have not known the show and can find something that they relate with in the musical because there are so many things that are extremely relatable.”
Well, if all goes well, maybe when it’s time for Wicked to get it’s live TV production debut, Vanessa will be around to play another of Idina’s iconic roles. (Though, no offence to V-Hudge, but I’m still holding out hope that Idina will do it herself with Kristin Chenoweth. Just saying!)