Brennin Hurt’s Broken Foot

Watching a live performance can certainly be more entertaining than watching something that’s been taped. It has the added “anything can happen” thrill that causes backstage jitters and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.

Most of the time, live theatre goes off without a hitch (at least without a hitch that the audience can notice). But sometimes major events cause even the most prepared theatre crews to panic. Like in late January, when the ‘Rent Live’ star Brennin Hunt (playing musician Roger Davis) broke his foot during a dress rehearsal the night before the big performance.

Hunt told Variety that as he was jumping off the last step to make a quick change before the final number, “my right foot just rolled over, and I snapped a bone in the arch of my foot… I immediately dropped and was in a lot of pain, and I knew it wasn’t good because even with my in-ear monitors I could hear it snap.” Like most people who suffer an injury, he ignored it as best he could: “I was just telling myself, “It’s not broken; it’s just a sprain; I’ll be back tomorrow!” But once he got a CAT-Scan, the ER doctors quickly confirmed that he had broken, not sprained, his foot.

With mere hours to go until the actual live performance, the cast and crew of “Rent Live” had to work a little stage magic to make sure the audience wouldn’t be disappointed.

The show must go on

While a broken foot is inconvenient for anyone, it’s especially challenging for people who rely on being on their feet in order to perform their jobs. A broken foot is definitely not conducive to a lead role in a musical that requires a significant amount of choreography and jumping off of ladders. Especially in front of a live audience, and most particularly in front of a live audience that’s watching from all over the world.

See, unlike regular theatre, which utilizes understudies, the directors of live televised events carefully choose their actors and don’t have replacements who are ready to step in. So without an understudy, and with a leading man who couldn’t stand on one of his legs, the cast and crew of “Rent Live” had to improvise.

Fortunately, the crew anticipates emergencies, like a power outage or an actor getting sick, so they filmed the entire dress rehearsals. Viewers saw taped scenes from dress rehearsal instead of a live performance from Hunt for most of the show. Even more fortunately, Hunt broke his leg at an opportune time (if such a thing exists). During his interview with Variety, he said, “If I would have broken it before ‘What You Own,’ there’s no stage-diving, there’s no climbing the ladder. I’m trying to think of all of the positive!”

The choreographers (who must be masters at improvising) were able to quickly change the last number to include Hunt (now seated) so the audience would have at least some live performance to view. The cast also put on a concert for the live audience, with Hunt in his wheelchair, singing songs from their performance.

Lessons learned from a broken foot

When all is said and done, breaking his foot didn’t ruin the show, and it didn’t do much to slow Hunt down. It put some things in perspective and brought the cast and crew of “Rent Live” together in a truly Rent-like way.

“What happened last night would not have happened if my foot had not been broken, and what happened last night was beautiful,” Hunt said in his interview with Variety. “It was the essence of Rent and I’m trying to stay as positive as possible and know maybe my foot broke for a reason.”

If you ever find yourself in a similar situation we here at Foot and Ankle Clinic can help. Book your appointment today!

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