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