Haute Ticket: Rent Hits Hollywood Bowl With A-List Cast

Neil Patrick Harris and Vanessa Hudgens

Admit it, fellow Angelenos, sometimes we get envious of other cities. When so many of our top Television and Film entertainers decide to do some live theater, giving audiences a chance to see them up close and in the flesh, they almost inevitably go to New York’s Broadway. Now, we can’t really make a fuss—it is the Great White Way. But after all, most of these entertainers call Los Angeles home.

Which is what makes this weekend at the Hollywood Bowl so special. On Friday, August 6, under the direction of Neil Patrick Harris, the Bowl will present a very, very special three-night-only run of Rent, with a cast that is sure to make it the live event of the season.

Among that cast will be Wayne Brady (playing Tom Collins), Vanessa Hudgens (in the role of HIV-positive stripper Mimi) and the Pussycat Dolls frontwoman and Dancing With The Stars champ Nicole Scherzinger (as the bisexual Maureen, below)—the role you might recall that Glee’s Idina Menzel originated on Broadway. Three nights only. Have I got your attention?

Good. The remainder of the cast is hardly weak, either. Cold Case fans may recognize Tracy Thorns, who’s playing the same role she played in the film (and final Broadway cast) of Rent, as is Telly Leung, while Aaron Tveit, Collins Pennie, Skyar Astin and Gwen Stewart should also be familiar names to Broadway junkies.

Nicole Scherzinger

This is Harris’ first time directing a piece of musical theatre—and he admitted to BroadwayWorld.com that “We’ll only have one week of rehearsal—which I like to call ‘madness.’” But he’s in good company with Musical Supervisor Tim Weil (who did the same duties for Rent on Broadway and the 2009 US tour) as well as choreographer Jamal Sims, whose credits include Hairspray (the film), Madonna’s “Sticky & Sweet Tour” and the 82nd Academy Awards.

“I’m so excited,”Hudgens told MTV.com. “I haven’t done theater in years upon years, and that is my house. That’s how I grew up, being onstage. Now, I finally get to go back, and I’m so excited.”

“She looks amazing, has great vocal chops, and seems really committed to honoring the somewhat iconic role of Mimi,” Harris told the LA Times. “I look forward to audiences seeing a dark, edgy, and very different side of Vanessa Hudgens this August.”

As for Scherzinger, “Nicole had a wonderful audition,” Harris told PopCrunch.com, in response to some potential skeptics. “She was well prepared, sang beautifully, and had us all laughing. If only she was somewhat attractive and didn’t have two left feet!”

And to BroadwayWorld, he summed up: “With this gang, I’m hoping to provide an eclectic mix of experienced Rent performers, amazing new talent, and recognizable faces in unexpected roles. Of paramount importance to me, though, is honoring the piece as a whole – the music, the vibe, the creator – so that those who have never experienced Rent will be able to appreciate it alongside die hard fans.” Of course, die hards will remember that Harris himself starred in LA’s Rent production back in 1997.

Think you’re going to see some recongnizable faces down in the boxes and Pond seats? I’d count on it. Hudgens has already confided that her BFF Ashley Tisdale is as excited about it as she is.

The Hollywood Bowl is located at 2301 North Highland Avenue,