‘Rent’ is on time for Bran­don Vic­tor Dixon and oth­ers on Fox

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Ontv -

Af­ter you’ve made a tele­vi­sion mark by earn­ing an Emmy nom­i­na­tion and wide ac­claim by star­ring in a live broad­cast of a stage clas­sic, how do you fol­low it?

By star­ring in a live broad­cast of an­other stage clas­sic.

That’s the path Bran­don Vic­tor Dixon is fol­low­ing, at least. Sin­gled out by many crit­ics and view­ers for his Ju­das Is­car­iot per­for­mance in last Easter’s “Je­sus Christ Su­per­star Live in Con­cert,” the “Power” alum now is in the ensem­ble cast of “Rent.” Fox tele­vises the late Jonathan Lar­son’s Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-win­ning work Sun­day, Jan. 27.

Trans­lat­ing themes of the Puc­cini opera “La Bo­heme” to New York’s East Vil­lage dur­ing the AIDS cri­sis, the pro­duc­tion – fea­tur­ing the iconic song “Sea­sons of Love” – fo­cuses on sev­eral peo­ple who lean on one an­other while pur­su­ing their re­spec­tive goals. Dixon plays Tom Collins, a com­puter sci­en­tist who is strug­gling per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally; also in the cast are Kiersey Cle­mons (“Flat­lin­ers’), Vanessa Hud­gens (”High School Mu­si­cal“), Jor­dan Fisher, Bren­nin Hunt and the sin­gle-named Ti­nashe (a re­cent ”Danc­ing With the Stars“con­tes­tant), Mario and Valentina.

A Tony Award win­ner as a pro­ducer (for the 2014 Broad­way re­vival of “Hed­wig and the An­gry Inch”), Dixon is de­vel­op­ing other projects for the­ater and film. How­ever, he says that “as an ac­tor, I didn’t know ex­actly what my next thing was go­ing to be. I was re­ally just look­ing for what­ever would kind of pique my in­ter­est.”

Dixon’s fa­mil­iar­ity with “Rent” be­gan when he was a Columbia Univer­sity sopho­more. “I didn’t un­der­stand the show the first time I saw it,” he al­lows, “but I had an au­di­tion for it a few weeks later, so I bought the al­bum and started to lis­ten to the mu­sic, and it all re­ally came to life for me. I fell in love with the mes­sage of the show and the feel­ing of the show.

“It’s also the only show I’ve ever gone to an open call for,” adds Dixon. “By the time it started, the line cir­cled the block in its en­tirety and started to cir­cle the next block over. I went out for it seven times and never got cast.” How­ever, Dixon ul­ti­mately ended up fill­ing in “for about three months” in an Off-Broad­way stag­ing.

De­spite his in­creased fame, Dixon – who’s also in the forth­com­ing Ama­zon an­thol­ogy “Mod­ern Love” – main­tains his life “hasn’t changed at all. I was out in L.A. re­cently and when I got back, all my friends were like, ‘You get­tin’ all the of­fers? You workin’ con­stantly now?’ I’m still shak­ing my be­hind out on the street. The only thing that has changed is that I’m do­ing it in nicer clothes for more peo­ple.”

Bran­don Vic­tor Dixon and Valentina star in “Rent” Sun­day on Fox.

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