If you know one song from Rent, it’s “Seasons of Love.” And if you know two songs from Rent, the second is probably “One Song Glory.”
Roger’s bittersweet, evocative song — that doesn’t remind us of La Boheme‘s “Musetta’s Waltz” — comes relatively early in the musical, the first big number after the title song. But where “Rent” is rebelliously raucous, “One Song Glory” starts off quiet and contemplative as Roger tries to come to terms with the fact that he might not create anything artistically noteworthy before he dies.
Brennin Hunt, the Nashville-based singer-songwriter who plays Roger in Fox’s live telecast of the musical, says the character’s very real fears of death and being forgotten make it easy to tap into the emotion of the song, even though the rocker is joking with his roommate just a few lines before its opening notes.
“Mark says, ‘Remember to take your AZT,’ and then it reminds Roger, ‘S–t, yeah, I need to take my AZT. I’m dying of AIDS,'” Hunt tells TVLine in the week before the broadcast (and before he broke his ankle in a dress rehearsal). Those familiar with the show know that at this point, Mark leaves and Roger is alone in the studio where they’re squatting.
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“When you get alone, you get in your own headspace, and there are so many things that wander through your mind,” Hunt adds. “That’s what’s so beautiful about the way Jonathan [Larson] wrote that song. ‘Just one song. Glory.’ And how many times he said ‘glory’ in one song, because that’s how our minds work when we’re dealing with serious issues.”
The first time Hunt saw Rent on Broadway, he recalls, Will Chase was playing Roger. “He just killed the role,” he says. The pair later worked together in Season 3 of Nashville. And when Hunt was recently in New York, Chase gave him tips over dinner.
“I told him I was a fan of what he did with it, and what Adam did with it,” Hunt says, referring to Adam Pascal, who originated the role and played it in the 2005 film adaptation. “He said, ‘Take bits and pieces of that if you want to, but honestly, at the end of the day, play Roger the way that Brennin would play Roger… That’s going to come across more real than wrong.'”