vanessa hudgens

Vanessa Hudgens Gets Edgy in Neil Patrick Harris’s Rent

While Zac Efron has been growing into an adult actor by hanging out with strippers, his equally pretty girlfriend has been doing the same by playing one in the Neil Patrick Harris–directed production of Rent, which kicked off this weekend at the Hollywood Bowl. The choice of Hudgens as Mimi, an HIV-positive, drug-addled, yet surprisingly high-spirited exotic dancer, caused some heads to turn, for some reason. It’s true that, despite having a naked-photo scandal under her belt, Hudgens is still best-known for her role in the kid-friendly High School Musical movies. But, like her man, she surely wants to act her 21 years now. According to Entertainment Weekly, she was even pretty good in the role this weekend:

She didn’t suck … Vocally, her performance was competent … with no need for Auto-Tune. And though Hudgens doesn’t come anywhere near the necessary emotional heft or possess a visible understanding of what it means to be homeless, penniless, strung out, and dying of a terrifying disease, she does, at least, look 16 … She flung herself wholeheartedly into the wall-to-wall choreography and brought an endearing sweetness to the love songs, transforming Mimi from a baggage-carrying basket case into an eyelash-batting romantic.

Efron and Hudgens, who are remarkably still (allegedly) dating and consistently charming, both seem poised for adult careers, and kudos to the sultry Hudgens for taking on an edgier and more challenging role. She looks the part, at least.

In Which We Salute The Bravery of Vanessa Hudgens [Pop Watch/EW]

Vanessa Hudgens Gets Edgy in Neil Patrick Harris’s Rent