‘Rent: Live’ Star Jordan Fisher Prepares For The Role Of His Dreams

FOX Rent Jordan Fisher Pamela Littky/FOX
Jordan Fisher as Mark Cohen in FOX's presentation of RENT: Live.

When FOX’s live presentation of Rent premieres Sunday, Jan. 27, it will be the culmination of a dream for star Jordan Fisher. The 24-year-old — who has already found acclaim as a recording artist, appeared in Broadway’s Hamilton, won Season 25 of Dancing With the Stars and recently hosted Dancing With the Stars: Juniors — reveals, “Rent was the show that made me want to pursue this industry. It was something that really moved me as a kid.”

Jonathan Larson’s Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent is loosely based on Puccini’s opera La Bohème and tells the story of artists struggling to follow their dreams in a bohemian New York City East Village neighborhood at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis. “It’s a story of ultimately figuring out how to measure the love that you not only give, but the love that you receive,” says Fisher. “Everybody’s broke. Nobody really has anything, but they have each other, and that’s what the show ultimately celebrates.”

One role in Rent has always stood out to Fisher: Mark Cohen, the musical’s narrator, who has eschewed his upper-class Jewish upbringing for life as a poor documentarian whose camera captures his story, and those of his friends, after he decides to document the gritty reality of life and “shoot without a script.”

The iconic role has been played by industry veterans Anthony Rapp and Neil Patrick Harris, and Fisher hopes to infuse Mark with fresh perspective. “I wanted to be the first Mark Cohen of color,” he says. “I’m mixed, and I’m proud of all of my heritages. Why can’t Mark Cohen also be a person of color that was born into privilege in upstate New York and chose to move down to Manhattan to choose the life that he wanted to live?”

Fisher reveals that he and stage director Michael Greif (who directed Rent on Broadway) have even more ideas. “We both felt that Mark could potentially be an edgier, slightly more tortured guy,” he says. “I definitely think that he is an optimistic guy, but I think that there’s a bit of cynicism and pessimism that could be played around with.”

Rent’s all-star ensemble cast includes Vanessa Hudgens, Kiersey Clemons, Brandon Victor Dixon, Brennin Hunt, Mario, Tinashe and Valentina, plus Keala Settle (The Greatest Showman) in a special role to perform the musical’s seminal song “Seasons of Love.”

Jordan Fisher Rent FOX
RENT: Top L-R to Bottom L-R: Brandon Victor Dixon as Tom Collins, Valentina as Angel Dumont Schunard, Jordan Fisher as Mark Cohen, Mario as Benjamin Coffin III, Kiersey Clemons as Joanne Jefferson, Vanessa Hudgens as Maureen Johnson, Brennin Hunt as Roger Davis and Tinashe as Mimi Marquez. Pamela Littky/FOX

“Every time I heard of a new person that was locking down a deal to join the cast, I was thrilled because it was a friend,” Fisher shares. “Brandon Victor Dixon was my [Aaron] Burr in Hamilton. Vanessa [Hudgens] and I worked together on Grease Live! Kiersey Clemons — we’ve been friends for years, but we’ve never actually worked together. Keala Settle and I performed at Richard Sherman’s birthday party over the summer. … The list goes on and on …”

On the night of Jan. 27, Fisher can’t wait until showtime so he can introduce Rent to a new generation and present a fresh staging for the musical’s loyal fans. “The first thing you see and the first thing you hear is Mark steppin’ out and setting the scene,” he shares. “I’m excited to set the tone and get the energy right.”

Until then, Fisher will be living, breathing and rehearsing the show that’s been such an integral part of his life. “I’ve just been blasting Rent in my car. I’ve been singing all the songs in the shower,” he says. “‘Goodbye, Love’ is my favorite! I love ‘Goodbye, Love.’”

Rent: Live > FOX > Sunday, Jan. 27 at 8/7c