Anthony Rapp is boldly going where no gay has gone before on the new Star Trek: Discovery. But the 45-year-old performer first rocketed to our heart as Mark Cohen in the seminal musical Rent, which debuted at New York Theatre Workshop in 1996 before transferring to Broadway for a staggering 12-year run.
Earlier this year Fox announced it will mount a live TV version of Rent in January 2019, with Grease Live! producer Marc Platt at the helm. But given the show’s mature language and themes—drug abuse, AIDS, queer identity—will it translate to network television?
“I’m curious to see which version they’re going to do,” Rapp tells NewNowNext. “There are certain words in the text I’m not sure they can have on primetime TV. I wonder how they’ll treat those moments in the show.”
Rapp, who returned to the touring production of Rent in 2009, says he hopes the small-screen version “doesn’t get watered down.”
“I hope they get a really good cast together and do it with the kind of rigor, heart, and soul that Rent demands.”
Inspired by La Bohème and set in the East Village, the groundbreaking musical tells the story of a group of artists struggling to follow their dreams in the shadow of AIDS and unchecked gentrification. It’s been produced around the world and was adapted into a 2005 film starring most of the original Broadway cast. In 2007, an abridged edition of Rent was approved by the estate of Jonathan Larson for use by high schools and nonprofessional acting groups. It omits the erotic song “Contact” and eliminates some of the shows coarse language, as well as tones down displays of affection in the original.