diana on broadway
Broadway, Broadway At Home, Theatre Online

Diana on Broadway Comes to Netflix: Theatre Streaming Wars Continue

Netflix has thrown its hat into the musical streaming wars with a totally new move. The streaming service announced that the new musical about Princess Diana, Diana, will premiere on Netflix before its opening on Broadway.

Diana was originally scheduled to open March 31, which was impeded by the ongoing Broadway shutdown. Its new official opening night is May 25, 2021, and it will premiere on Netflix before then.

This is a completely unprecedented move. Never before has a musical gone to streaming before it opened on Broadway.

The show will be filmed on the Longacre Theatre stage without an audience. The full original cast is expected to return. The safety protocols for filming have been Equity-approved as well, though I am curious as to how this will reflect in the film or if it will not at all.

“We speak for the entire company when we say that we couldn’t be more excited to finally be able to share our show with theater lovers everywhere,” the Diana producers said in a joint statement. “Though there is no substitute for the live theater, we are honored to be a part of the quality entertainment that Netflix provides its subscribers worldwide.”

As I have said before, even without live theatre, this is still an exciting time to be a theatre fan. This theatre streaming war just grows more and more interesting as the streaming services try to get in on that Hamilton success Disney+ snatched up. And Diana is an interesting choice. I must admit I am not familiar with the show, but to choose an unopened show that never had a real chance to gauge its success for streaming is, well, an interesting choice.

Netflix has not announced an airdate other than “early 2021,” but I am keeping my eyes on this one. I wonder if it will lead to more shows doing the same with different streaming services. Feel free to speculate in the comments. Maybe HBO Max will pick up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child…but I would just love to be able to watch Hadestown over and over. What do you think?

If you liked this post, check out:

Is Disney+ Vying for King of Streaming Musicals?

Do Musical Streams Translate to Real Life Ticket Sales?

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socially distANCED THEATRE
Broadway, General Theatre

Socially Distanced Theatre? Berkshire Theatre Group’s Godspell

Live theatre is back? Well, sort of. Berkshire Theatre Group in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, has recently begun performances of “Godspell Under the Tent” in what is one of the first returns to live theatre in America, and one of the first Equity-approved performances as well. (The other approved performance, FYI, is also in MA – it’s Barrington Stage Company’s production of David Cale’s one-man show Harry Clark.)

The show follows strict safety guidelines from the audience to the performers. From BTG’s website:

Temperature scans will be done for patrons at their point of entry. No-contact scanning stations for tickets will be placed at point of entry, spaced at least 6 feet from the temperature scan. Free-standing hand sanitizer stations will be placed at various locations throughout the space. Patrons will be required to wear masks. One way traffic patterns will be enforced with arrows and 6 foot markers on the floor, as well as lines down the center of hallways, to and from the tent, restrooms and concessions. The restrooms will have entrance and exits that are separate and one way. Every other stall, urinal and sink will be marked not usable. A doctor/nurse will be on duty for all performances. Additional safeguards will also be in place.

Not only do they have those safeguards, the cast is distanced from each other as well on stage. Ben Brantley outlined these choices in his New York Times review.

The golden rule here takes the form of their nearly always keeping at least six feet from one another. Whenever they have to cross one another’s paths they make sure their masks (bunched around their necks) are pulled into place. When a chorus sings Schwartz’s tuneful earwig pop gospel — an activity known to let spittle fly — it does so behind the transparent panels of Randall Parsons’s beautifully utilitarian set. (Matthew E. Adelson’s patterned lighting helps keep it from looking like a doctor’s waiting room.)

Now, I love theatre, and yes, I do love Godspell – I think it was a great metaphorical choice to be one of the first returns to theatre. But I have to say…is it worth it? The audience and the performers both have to wear masks. Everyone has to be socially distanced. And though I understand they are all taking massive precautions, it still feels risky to me. The NYT review features a picture of the socially distanced audience and you can clearly see two theatre-goers wearing their masks incorrectly. Despite the safeguards, there are certainly still risks. I worry especially about the crew, who absolutely find it harder to socially distance and be safe while setting up things like the set and microphones.

Though, I have to say, in regards to it being worth it – it does appear that all performances are sold out (this may be because the distanced audience can only seat 75, however).

Overall, I guess I would have to attend the production and see how everything works myself to make an absolute judgment on this show. I do wonder if we will be seeing more Equity-approved productions similar to this. I know that the Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven, NJ has been doing theatre under a tent as well. I only know this because it is local to me, so I am sure there are other theatres around the country doing the same thing.

To me, however, it just doesn’t seem worth it. There are just too many risks involved for cast, crew and audiences alike. I empathize with those out of work, but this doesn’t feel right to me. Though, with the government resisting funding the arts during this time, I can understand why artists feel the need to put on socially distanced theatre. I wish that unemployment would be extended, and that the arts would receive grants and funding to ensure that when it is time, it can return fully. But I would much rather everyone stay home and wait until we can perform theatre safely.

If you liked this post, check out:

No More Stage Dooring? Live Performance Safety Guidelines Revealed

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musicals streaming
Broadway At Home, Theatre Online

Do Musical Streams Translate to Real Life Ticket Sales?

Although we are seeing more musicals available for streaming, the vast majority of the musical theatre canon is unavailable outside of seeing the shows live. The most-used argument by Broadway producers against filming and releasing musicals is that of profit. That is, most producers are afraid that having a show readily available to watch will lead to revenue losses as people will choose to stay home to watch a musical instead of going to the theatre. And while we could discuss the problems with this argument, such as its inherent classism, the fact is this is the way things are right now. That is why most shows for streaming are released after the show has closed on Broadway.

Now, Hamilton has come and change everything. Even though Broadway is shut down for now, Hamilton is technically still running. So, now you can see one of the most popular and expensive musicals for $6.99 a month…but people are still interested in buying tickets, according to a recent survey done by TodayTix.

Turns out, this old idea of releasing a musical on film cheapening the experience may not be true. 38.6% of those surveyed who streamed it are now more likely to buy tickets to Hamilton.

This TodayTix survey also revealed that 81% of people who streamed Hamilton on Disney+ would pay to watch another filmed version of a Broadway or West End show. Plus, 78% of TodayTix users surveyed all around the world will still watch streamed shows when theatres open up. And when live theatre is back, 72% say they will still buy tickets to a streamed show.

When it comes to theatre, we’re definitely still in the early stages of streaming. And it will be interesting to see how these survey results are reflected in real life when theatre eventually does return in its live form.

As I mentioned before, I personally believe the argument that live theatre is special and therefore cannot be filmed to be classist. While I adore live theatre (clearly) and do agree that it is special, it is not a strong enough argument to justify keeping it locked to only people who live near NYC or in a touring area, are able to afford it or are otherwise part of the elite. There are so many theatre lovers out there who are unable to see professional live theatre. Theatre should absolutely be accessible to all, and streaming is helping it get there.

I hope as we go on that filming and releasing musicals grows in popularity. These numbers from TodayTix show that no matter what the platform, fans are eager to consume any form of theatre. And everybody should be able to watch theatre, no matter where they are.

If you liked this post, check out:

The Best Broadway Shows You Can Stream

Is Disney Vying for King of Streaming Musicals?

And make sure to Follow Us on Twitter!

disney plus musicals
Broadway At Home, Theatre Online

Is Disney+ Vying for King of Streaming Musicals?

Disney is a huge corporation that seems to be trying to control all aspects of the entertainment world, and its entry into the world of streaming is no different. While their streaming service, Disney+, has all the Disney animated movies and TV shows that you would expect, it seems like they are trying to take the crown in another media form: musicals.

You can already stream a couple of musicals on Disney+, whether it’s an existing movie musical, the Disney musical Newsies that was filmed live, or, of course, Hamilton. But did you know that Disney+ is currently working on adding more musicals to the service?

After Hamilton‘s massive success on the platform, Filmed on Stage reported that Disney+ is apparently planning on releasing their West End version of Aladdin as well. It was previously filmed and apparently Disney had planned on releasing it earlier this year, which changed because they decided to release Hamilton instead. A Disney representative confirmed that Aladdin had been filmed live, and that details of its broadcast will be coming soon. According to Filmed on Stage, the cast that was filmed in 2019 was composed of various cast members from different productions as well as Trevor Dion Douglas, who originated the role of the Genie in the West End.

But musicals filmed live are not the only way that Disney+ is attempting to corner the musical streaming market. Just days after the above news was revealed, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Disney+ is developing a live action adaptation of the 1990 musical that was turned into the 2017 hit revival, Once on this Island. Disney confirmed that this will be a traditional movie musical as a opposed to a stage recording. Playwright Jocelyn Bioh and director Wanuri Kahiu are already on the team, and Marc Platt (you may know him as producer of Wicked, or Ben Platt’s dad) is set to produce. We’ll have to wait for further details about casting and release dates, but so far it seems pretty exciting.

Whether you love or hate Disney, you have to admit that right now is an exciting time to be a theatre fan. With the two existing theatre streaming services (BroadwayHD and Broadway on Demand) and more services like Disney+ adding theatre content, things are looking great for those who love theatre and wish it to be more accessible. And now, after the massive success of Hamilton, we may begin to see even more theatre on streaming services as more companies realize there is a huge market here. I can’t wait to see what’s in store.

If you liked this post, check out:

The Best Broadway Shows You Can Stream

How to Enjoy Theatre in Lockdown

And make sure to Follow Us on Twitter!

taylor swift musical
General Theatre, Theatre Adjacent

I Am Begging Taylor Swift to Write a Musical

Okay, I promise this post is actually going to be about theatre (and no, it will have nothing to do with that disastrous Cats movie that we do not need to speak of on this blog). However, it must be said: I love Taylor Swift. I am 100% a Swiftie. It’s just who I am – I’ve loved her ever since Teardrops On My Guitar was released, which means I’ve actually been a Taylor Swift fan longer than I’ve been a theatre fan. Anyway, this post is about her latest album, Folklore.

I assume we’ve all had the chance to listen to Folklore, yes? And we all love it, right? Of course.

So at this point, you’re probably wondering, what does this have to do with theatre? It’s because I want Taylor Swift to write a musical. And I hope I am not alone in this.

This is a thought I have expressed before on this blog, and it is one that I will keep hoping for until it happens. Even if you do not like Taylor Swift as a musician (which I don’t know how you could, but anyway) you have to admit she is an incredible storyteller. Her songwriting skills are basically unmatched. And her latest album, Folklore, is no exception.

Many people and fans wish for a Taylor Swift jukebox musical. This, of course, would be incredible, and a few years ago they actually did a concert version of this at 54 Below which was, yes, incredible. And a jukebox musical would be all well and good, but I want more.

I want Taylor Swift to write her own, original musical. Think about it! In my opinion, Folklore has proven that Taylor Swift can write in any genre. Her versatility is incredible, and that is why she is the perfect candidate to write a musical. It would probably be the most beautiful, haunting love story.

Of course, a jukebox musical with her existing material would already be great, but I think one composed of wholly new material could be even better. Either based on source material or an original story. But I think Taylor Swift has proven that her original stories are strong enough on their own – wouldn’t it be great to have a full fleshed out story of the love triangle present on Folklore?

In conclusion, a Taylor Swift musical would simply be the best thing ever. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

And if you’re searching for another connection to theatre, Patti LuPone herself is a fan. Just in case you needed any more convincing.

What would you like to see out of a potential Taylor Swift musical? What other artists would you love to see write a musical? Let me know!

If you liked this post, check out:

Musicians Who Should Write Musicals

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Drama therapist
alternative broadway careers

Drama Therapist: Alternative Broadway Careers

Welcome back to Musings About Musicals’ weekly series, Alternative Broadway Careers. This week, we will be discussing a career that is certainly unique and different from other theatre-related careers: drama therapy!

1. How Do I Get This Job?

First, you’ll need one of two things. You may choose to get a master’s degree in Drama Therapy from an accredited school, according to the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA). Or, if you have an existing master’s degree in something else, such as theatre or a mental health profession, or are in the process of getting one, you can go through NADTA’s Alternative Training Program. Either of these paths will lead you to becoming a Registered Drama Therapist (RDT).

2. What is This Job Like?

Drama therapy is a form of therapy that uses theatre techniques to achieve mental health goals. So, for example, a drama therapist may work with their client using roleplaying, whether using a script or improvisation. Or maybe a drama therapist will do projective play with a toy or prop to help their client express their feelings. These processes are intended to help the client express themselves and tell their stories, while also giving them a way to solve their problems, boost their confidence and perhaps even experience catharsis.

3. What Skills Do I Need?

A drama therapist requires the same caring and patience a regular therapist requires. But a drama therapist naturally will also need knowledge of theatre, as well as a lot of creativity. They need strong communication skills as well as a lot of emotional strength – being a therapist is certainly not an easy job.

4. Where Can I Get More Information?

The best place to get information is the NADTA website. This website will give you essentially everything you need to know. Or, if you are UK based, you can check out the NHS website instead. There are plenty of resources that are just a Google search away!

This is Part Three in Musings About Musicals’ Alternative Broadway Careers series. CLICK HERE for Part Two: Theatre Management.

theatre tiktok
Broadway, General Theatre, Theatre Online

My Favorite Theatre TikTok Accounts

Okay, I know I may be a little too old for the demographic, but guys, I am obsessed with watching TikToks. They are so clever and funny, and there are so many of them perfectly tailored to the things you like! There is a ton of theatrical content to find on TikTok. I know I haven’t seen them all, but I’ve found a few favorites along the way. So here is a list of my favorite theatre TikTok accounts – and if you have any recommendations, let me know!

@rockysroad

Rocky Paterra is a very talented actor and singer who is also incredibly hilarious. He does the BEST Lin-Manuel Miranda impression I have ever seen. Just watching his raps will make your day. Plus, he writes his own music, too. Please watch all of his videos now. Here’s another LMM parody…and another one just because.

@jjniemann

JJ Niemann was a swing in Book of Mormon on Broadway, and he makes hilarious Broadway related TikToks. Most of his videos revolve around the Broadway experience, like auditioning, getting cast in shows and of course, making fun of Cats. After all, the best kinds of theatre kids are the ones who can make fun of themselves. His videos are also occasionally educational – check out his journey to Broadway!

@katxkelly

Kat Kelly is different from the other creators I’ve talked about so far. Instead of being a performer, she actually was the social media manager for Waitress the Musical. Not all of her TikToks are theatre related (she’s also responsible for a couple viral videos), but the ones that are can be really interesting. Or, the ones that aren’t informative are super funny. Also, she kinda has my dream job, so Kat, if you’re reading this…hit me up on LinkedIn?

@avernomusicals

Averno Musicals is really interesting. If you are really into TikTok aesthetics like cottagecore and dark academia this is right up your alley. It’s more than just musicals, it has turned into a multimedia universe in all genres. Morgan Smith, the creator, already came up with one viral internet musical, Oceanborn. Now, they’ve created a whole universe in Averno, and honestly, it’s pretty incredible. The aesthetics are so relaxing, too. The music sounds really good, the team is young and so talented, and they’re working on recording albums now. I can’t wait to hear them!

@itsmaggieschneider

Maggie Schneider is for my fellow former emo kids who also are theatre kids. (There’s a lot of us, right?) She makes pop punk versions of your favorite musical theatre songs. And they’re so good! She has a great voice, and who doesn’t secretly still love pop punk music in 2020? She also does covers of pop punk songs, and has her own band too. But now I want a Broadway Goes Punk album. Who’s with me?

What’s your favorite theatre TikTok account? I would love to discover more accounts and have more reasons to waste my day away on this app. Let me know what you think!

If you liked this post, check out:

How to Enjoy Theatre in Lockdown

The Best Broadway Shows You Can Stream

Follow us on Twitter!

live performance safety guidelines
Broadway, General Theatre

No More Stage Dooring? Live Performance Safety Guidelines Revealed

Could stage dooring be a thing of the past? According to the 27-page guidelines for COVID-19 reopening released Tuesday by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Stagecraft Safety Committee (IATSE), it is at least for now. These guidelines are intended to be for IATSE members, employers and local unions, but they are interesting to read for anyone interested in how theatre is going to come back. And, despite being 27 pages, it is only supposed to provide general information, according to the IATSE website. Still, 27 pages is a lot, so I’ll go through some of the more important (and interesting) points of the guidelines.

No More Stage Dooring

“Eliminate and discourage the audience and public from congregating outside of the stage
door post performance.”

Like I said above, it’s true! Fans won’t be able to line up outside the theatre for autographs and photos. And honestly, this one is just common sense. While I personally love going to the stage door, as I’m sure many of you reading do as well, it’s way more important to keep the performers safe. Plus, with some of the entitled fans I have been seeing, maybe it’s for the best to keep stage dooring away for a bit.

There will also be no backstage tours given. You’ll even have to grab a Playbill yourself from a rack or table – no more being handed to you.

PPE for Everyone

“All required PPE will be provided and maintained by the employer”

The guidelines require that Personal Protective Equipment is provided to all cast and crew, as well as proper training for how to use it. PPE should be worn everywhere that it can be worn. Everyone also has to practice good hygiene standards and physical distancing when they can.

Special COVID-19 Officers

“One or more autonomous COVID-19 Compliance Officer(s) [CCO] with specialized
training, responsibility and authority for COVID-19 safety compliance and enforcement will
be in the workplace to implement the Covid-19 safety plan and address issues as they arise.”

The CCO will be in charge of a slew of things, including overseeing adherence to things like social distancing, disinfecting, testing, symptom monitoring and anything else the employer decides. The CCO (and whatever assistants they need) should always be available during work hours and should be accessible to all personnel. They also are the ultimate authority in this regard.

General COVID-19 Plans

“Venues must have a written COVID-19 safety plan in place that specifies necessary policies,
practices and procedures. In multi-employer venues there must be a process for coordinating activities related to prevention and control of Covid-19.”

So, everyone needs a plan. Makes enough sense. There are also some more specific plans for how to prepare. Diagnostic testing is good, but as the document notes, it can be imperfect. So it is a good start to reduction rather than a perfect answer. This will depend on how often the employee in question is exposed to the public, and the testing protocols will change as testing does too.

Daily screening will be necessary for workers to ensure that they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. If they are, they should not come to work (obviously) and if they develop symptoms on-site, they should be sent home. Those who do test positive should alert the CCO, who will alert those who were close to the sick person so that they can immediately quarantine.

If you want to read this for yourself, I’ll link the document again here. What do you guys think? How different do you think theatre will be when it opens up? Let me know!

If you liked this post, check out:

How to Enjoy Theatre in Lockdown

Follow us on Twitter!

theatre management
alternative broadway careers

Theatre Management: Alternative Broadway Careers

Welcome back to Musings About Musicals’ weekly series, Alternative Broadway Careers. This week, I want to discuss a career that is on the business side of things that can be very grueling but also very rewarding – theatre management!

1. How Do I Get This Job?

Many colleges and universities offer a four-year degree in theatre management. In some cases, you may need a master’s degree as well, whether an MFA or MBA. Post-graduation, you will likely need to work your way up doing entry level work for theatres, like as a secretary. You’ll also want to have experience in other theatre fields, as it will be extremely beneficial to know everything you can about not only acting and technical things, but also important aspects of theatres such as marketing and fundraising. Some theatre managers worked their way up to this job through other production-related jobs.

2. What is This Job Like?

As I said above, this work is can be long and difficult. As a theatre manager, you will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of a theatre. Depending on the size of the theatre, this could include overseeing marketing techniques, finances, special events planning and of course administration. You may also need to hire and train the staff of the theatre. Essentially, as the theatre manager, you are responsible for the daily operations of the theatre as well as planning out long-term strategies. So basically you’re the deciding factor in whether your theatre succeeds or fails. Sound intimidating?

3. What Skills Do I Need?

A theatre manager has to be very skilled in many different fields. Naturally, you will need excellent organization skills and communication skills. Being in charge of finances means you’ll need accounting skills as well. You’ll need strong analytical skills and of course, creativity is always a necessity in any theatre field. But most importantly, a theatre manager needs patience. With all the many responsibilities, it’s important to be able to stay calm and focused while you are facing immense pressure.

4. Where Can I Get More Information?

Here is a list of colleges that offer theatre management programs. It has tons of great information and you can always reach out to the individual schools for more. Another great way to find out more is to reach out to your local theatre, or maybe a theatre you want to work at, and see if you can speak with their manager. They’ll probably have a lot of great, specialized advice and you can see if this career track may be right for you!

This is Part Two in Musings About Musicals’ Alternative Broadway Careers series. CLICK HERE for Part One: Theatrical Public Relations.

Broadway At Home

How to Enjoy Theatre in Lockdown

I think it’s safe to say that everyone reading this misses theatre. While the rest of the country is slowly starting to reopen, we’re stuck without theatre for the time being. It is difficult not knowing exactly when our beloved art form will return. Luckily, things are not entirely hopeless. Here are a few ways we can continue to enjoy theatre, even while in lockdown.

1. Revisit Old Cast Recordings (And Discover Something New!)

I think this is a really fun way to get that Broadway fix without having to do anything special. Just go through the numerous cast recordings I’m sure you own (or stream them on Spotify or Apple Music!) and find one you maybe haven’t listened to in a while or one that you haven’t really listened to before. There are so many musicals I used to listen to all the time when I was a teenager, but I haven’t in years. And there are so many that everyone else loves that I haven’t heard of at all. There are so many cast recordings out there so you’re bound to find something you like. Who knows, maybe you will rediscover an old favorite or you’ll find something amazing you never knew existed!

2. Check Out the Livestreams

At this time, there are so many theatrical livestreams going on, it can be hard to keep track. People are going on Instagram Live to do fitness or dance classes, they’re hosting streams through YouTube, theatres are streaming their own content, there is an endless amount of free content online if you just know where to look! Check out this article from Playbill that has a schedule for some ideas. Or, for something different, check out Seth Rudetsky and Jame Wesley’s daily stream, Stars in the House. They have all kinds of cool guest stars all the time, and let’s face it, who doesn’t love Seth Rudetsky?

3. Or, Check Out Other Streams

On Netflix, Disney+ and other streaming services you can find all kinds of recorded theatre. I went over some of these options in an earlier post. So log onto your streaming service of choice and pick out something to watch, whether old or new! There are so many options. Or you can check out BroadwayHD, which is a streaming service just for theatre. I’m doing their free trial right now and I’m so excited to see what they have available!

4. Show Your Support

Honestly, the best way to enjoy theatre right now is to make sure that all performing arts professionals are being helped to the fullest extent at this time. Donate to the Actors Fund, which is helping out of work theatre workers. Reach out to your elected representatives and urge them to help financially support performing arts venues. And donate to local venues, as well. Many of them are non-profits and rely on ticket sales that they are not getting right now to stay stable, like State Theatre New Jersey. Please donate as much as you can if you are able to, and if you are not, use your voice and make sure that performing arts professionals and venues get the financial security they so need at this time. It is the least we can do as audience members to give back after all the joy and entertainment they have brought us through the years.

If you have any other suggestions, please let me know in the comments. I would love to hear how you are enjoying theatre while live shows are put on pause.