Vanessa Hudgens and Kiersey Clemons stole the show during Fox’s Rent Live telecast when they performed the simmering “Take Me or Leave Me.” The pair portrayed girlfriends Maureen and Joanne respectively in the televised adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s seminal musical about a close-knit struggling artists living in New York City during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis.
“Take Me or Leave Me” arrives during the show’s second act. It’s the height of tension between the performance artist and the lawyer who realize their different approaches to life and love. Hudgens perfectly captures the sexy, carefree persona of Maureen, who was originated by Idina Mendzel when the musical opened in 1996. Meanwhile, Clemons hits all of Joanne’s big notes while delivering her retort about why she works better with more discipline in her life.
Rent Live aired on Fox Sunday night, though much of the performance was not actually live due to a broken ankle sustained by Brennin Hunt, who played the lead role of Roger. Instead, Fox aired the Saturday night dress rehearsal. The cast was rounded out by Tinashe (Mimi), Jordan Fisher (Mark), Valentina (Angel), Mario (Benjamin Coffin III) and Brandon Victor Dixon (Tom). The original Broadway cast joined the stage at the end of the show for a reprise of “Seasons of Love.”