We caught the three-night only production of Rent this past weekend at the Hollywood Bowl, directed under the guidance of the infinitely likable Neil Patrick Harris. To put it succinctly, there was one thing we really liked about the performance, and one thing we really did not. One of those things was Nicole Scherzinger and the other was Vanessa Hudgens. Can you guess which one is which?
Let’s get to the bad news first. Although Entertainment Weekly was able to find the silver lining of Vanessa’s weak performance (“She didn’t suck” was how they opened their lukewarm review), we’re sorry we honestly can’t do the same. We’ve got nothing against the girl, but she was incredibly miscast—not because she has a squeaky-clean Disney background, but because she simply could not deliver at this professional a level of live theatre.
Vanessa’s acting simply wasn’t good enough (when Mimi dies and comes back to life, Hudgens played it like somebody just woke her up in the middle of class), but all could have been forgiven if her singing was up to par. Unfortunately, her limited range could not elevate her performance to anything other than bad karaoke. Mimi’s songs aren’t that difficult to sing, and she still had trouble hitting all the notes. Neil Patrick Harris should have cast someone who could absolutely kill these numbers, not his Beastly co-star who managed to just scrape by.
But that was our take watching live during Saturday night’s performance. You be the judge:
Vanessa Hudgens – “Out Tonight”
Vanessa Hudgens – “Without You”
The brightest spot of the entire production, believe it or not, was Nicole Scherzinger, who’s having quite the career resurgance after her recent Dancing with the Stars win. The pop singer was able to make the role of Maureen her own, nailing every single note, and even giving Idina Menzel’s original Broadway cast recording a run for its money. And although our own seats were way in the back of the Bowl, we were still captivated by her energy and natural skill.
In case the fifteen billionth reincarnation of the Pussycat Dolls doesn’t work out (or her rumored X Factor gig), Nicole could seriously have a successful career on Broadway. See for yourself:
Nicole Scherzinger – “Over The Moon”
Nicole Scherzinger – “Take Me Or Leave Me”