Here’s What Went Down During Fox’s Not-Live ‘Rent: Live’ Special That Left Fans Wanting More
To say that we were excited to see Valentina act in her debut television performance is an understatement. If you consider that Valentina — born James Leyva — hasn’t been a drag queen for very long and that we’ve only honestly seen her on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the idea of seeing her in another role is a big deal. So, fans have been anticipating the musical performance of “Rent: Live” for a couple of months. Valentina was hand-picked for the role of Angel Dumott Schunard meaning she didn’t have to audition. Here’s what went done on the not-live live show.
Fox didn’t air a “live version” of “Rent: Live” because an actor suffered an injury, and that was the first of many things that, honestly, went wrong.
The first mistake had to be that Fox did not have an understudy for the roles, because, in theater, there’s always an understudy ready to take on the part if there’s ever an issue. After actor Brennin Hunt got hurt during a dress rehearsal, there was no one to take over, which is why they had to air a taped version on Sunday night. The program also started late, so there was a delay, which naturally would turn away viewers.
The taped version had major issues including the singing performances. According to Vox, actors sometimes “save” their voice during rehearsals to show their best during the live show. Since Fox aired a taped rehearsal from the night before, some of the actors, in particular, Valentina, perhaps did not perform their best.
Valentina’s singing in the taped version of “Rent: Live” was unfortunately sad.
— María (@JungeVulkane) January 28, 2019
Perhaps Valentina was attempting to save her voice for the live version. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Valentina talked about how she was chosen for the role.
“[The casting agent] had me audition without knowing if I could sing or act or anything,” Valentina told the publication. “I was always a big fan of musical theater, dance, and choir so those things that I did in school are all part of what I get to do now. I was not an expert performer in those times, and I wasn’t getting the best training, but I always had a love for what I get to do now with ‘Rent.'”
The tragic part is that we will never know how good she could have been in “Rent,” and others feel the same way.
— A.L (@DCProgressive27) January 28, 2019
The New York Times review of “Rent” pointed out that Valentina’s significant solo number suffered a lot.
“In the case of ‘Today 4 U,’ a musical showcase for the larger-than-life optimist Angel (Valentina, a star of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’), the audience was so hyped it drowned out much of her vocals.”
The actors also watched along with viewers, and Valentina was seen crying during the taped performance.
— T Dubs (@Yoshirox10) January 28, 2019
Valentina has not spoken out since the airing of the taped version. Before the airing of the show, Valentina did say on Instagram that it was an honor for her to play the role of Angel saying that she is the “heart and soul of ‘Rent.'”
“Angel has now become my angel that guides me to be a better person. I’m diving into this role wholeheartedly with all the love she deserves. A big shout out to all the Angel Stars that have come before me, I’m so blessed to be a part of the RENT family.”
Here’s what others had to say about Valentina’s performance.
— Eric Janvier (@ClassicJanvier) January 28, 2019
It was pretty hard on the ears.
We wanted to stay engaged, but it was so hard.
— alex (@alex_the_paige) January 28, 2019
It is a true disservice that Fox didn’t prepare for a chance that one of the actors would hurt themselve when rehearsing. It is important to have understudying to take on the roles when things happen. We can only imagine that Valentina would have been so much better during a real show.
People brought up her iconic lip sync performance on “Drag Race.”
— Jessica Harrington (@JessDevaney17) January 28, 2019
People are savage on social media. They hide behind screens and keyboards meaning they never have to deal with saying things in person.
Fans, despite their sadness with her vocals, still love Valentina.
— Che Che 🇭🇳 (@ImBriannaRosexo) January 28, 2019
She will rise above this, we know it!