Vanessa Hudgens to star in 'Rent' at the Hollywood Bowl this summer
Vanessa Hudgens, the heroine of Disney's "High School Musical," will star in another mega-fan favorite, Jonathan Larson's "Rent," which will run Aug. 6-8 at the Hollywood Bowl.
Hudgens will play Mimi, the HIV-positive exotic dancer in the award-winning '90s rock riff on Puccini's "La Boheme."
No other casting has been announced for the fully staged show, which will mark the musical directing debut of actor Neil Patrick Harris, himself a star of "Rent's" 1997 L.A. production and national tour.
Hudgens, 21, became a pop idol as sweet and brainy Gabriella Montez -- the love interest of Zac Efron's jock Troy Bolton -- in the 2006 Disney Channel movie "High School Musical" and its two sequels. She has recorded a pair of albums and pursued a post-"HSM" film career that includes the 2009 "Bandslam" and the upcoming "Beastly"-- a modern take on "Beauty and the Beast" --and the action flick "Sucker Punch."
After a sold-out run at the New York Theatre Workshop, "Rent" opened on Broadway in 1996. The tale of a troubled group of East Village squatters won the Pulitzer Prize for drama and four Tonys, racked up 5,124 performances and drew legions of new fans to musical theater.
By staging "Rent" -- and casting Hudgens -- the Bowl also is expanding the audience base for its annual Broadway show. Last summer, it brought in another young Hollywood star to sing and dance -- with actress Jessica Biel playing Sarah Brown in Frank Loesser's "Guys and Dolls."
-- Karen Wada
Photo: Vanessa Hudgens. Credit: Craig Barritt / Getty Images