Rent Live airs this weekend but the subject matter has people wondering how it will be censored. The show was written and premiered in the 1990s and was a modern-day adaptation of Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème, following a group of young artists—including a cinematographer and a songwriter—living in New York City’s Alphabet City in the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis during the late 1980s.
— Brandon Victor Dixon (@BrandonVDixon) January 19, 2019
Rent went on to receive a Pulitzer Prize and four Tony Awards, reports the New York Daily News.
However, besides covering the tragedy of HIV/AIDS, the musical also contains subject matter with corresponding lyrics that might not be received well by a primetime audience. These lyrics include such things as the F-word, references to suicide, hard drug use, sex, and “mucho masturbation.”
Reports of Rent plot and lyric changes have made news in the past, most notoriously that “AIDS/HIV” was replaced by a school for diabetes and insulin breaks.
the other day a bartender told me his high school did a performance of RENT where they couldn't say AIDS so all the characters had diabetes
— Chelsea Fagan (@Chelsea_Fagan) October 6, 2017
Saturday Night Live even made a skit about it, which you can watch below.
But besides Rent, what are some other lyric or plot changes that have been made to make “edgier” musicals more digestible? We asked and were surprised at some of the answers…
“Was in a ‘Junior’ production of Hairspray, and due to there being a lot of religious kids in the cast, Link had to say ‘Tracy, if I don’t hug you right now I might just bust a gut!’ despite the fact we had been hugging the whole show. It was so very bad.” — caius_ligaria129
“Mean Girls Tony performance changed “blowing and fingering” to “getting tromboners.” Lmao. That musical’s lyrics were already terrible I didn’t know it was possible to make it worse.” — NY08
You can watch that video below.
Jesus Christ Superstar
“My dad was in a high school production of Jesus Christ Superstar, at a very Catholic school. They added a song where Jesus rises again and reprised some music to make it work. Wow.” — MusicalTourettes
“Grease: ‘We made out under the dock’ —> ‘we told jokes under the dock.'” — Skysteps00000
“I see you, and I raise you ‘Summer Lovin” –> ‘Summer Funin.'” — sethepstein1
“we sang the song for a junior showcase when we all were SIXTEEN and had to change EVERYTHING 😂 we changed ‘we made out under the dock’ to ‘we hung out walked down the dock’ and ‘he got friendly holding my hand. she got friendly down in the sand. he was sweet just turned 18. she was good you know what I mean.’ to ‘he was friendly he held my hand she was friendly we played in the sand. he was sweet just turned 15. she was nice she wasn’t mean.’” — sharonamo
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
“The entire Tony performance of the Aggie Song from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas! They don’t even attempt to change the lyrics and just play a strange noise for what they want censored – SO AWKWARD.” — ThePantasticJoe
The Music Man
“I did Music Man at a religious community theatre and I think the worst was they didn’t want Marian and Harold kissing because the actors weren’t married to each other – so they hugged for ‘Till There Was You’ instead.” — IniMiney
Do you have any funny censorship stories? Comment below!