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The Tony Awards Are Going Digital

The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing recently announced that the 2020 Tony Awards ceremony will be going ahead in the fall – but digitally.

The ceremony, originally set for June 7 of this year, was postponed indefinitely March 25.

“Though unprecedented events cut the 2019–2020 Broadway season short, it was a year full of extraordinary work that deserves to be recognized,” Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin and American Theatre Wing President Heather Hitchens said in a joint statement. “We are thrilled not only to have found a way to properly celebrate our artists’ incredible achievements this season, but also to be able to uplift the entire theatre community and show the world what makes our Broadway family so special at this difficult time. The show must go on, no matter what—and it will.”

Only shows that opened by February 19 will be eligible. Though West Side Story and Girl From the North Country had opened by the time the Broadway shutdown started, but the Tony voters were not all able to see them, so they will not be eligible this time around. They will, however, be eligible for next year’s awards. 16 shows that were supposed to open this past season had not done so yet by shutdown, and half of them had not even played a single preview, according to Playbill.

According to the New York Times, the administrators had actually considered combining both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons for one big televised ceremony next year, but ultimately decided that would be unfair to the shows that opened in 2019.

The administrators and rule-makers will be meeting this week to discuss the categories. For many categories there are few eligible competitors. For example, The Lightning Thief is technically the only show eligible for original score. They may decide to eliminate the category completely, or require that a certain percentage of voters support the nominee, even though it is the only one. The same goes for other categories facing similar issues.

They hope to have the ceremony in late October, but further details remain to be seen. Will it be fully digital? Or will it be socially distanced in person? What will the performances be like?

Let’s speculate for fun. What do we all think the awards show will be like this year? All I hope for is a way to celebrate our beloved community.

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NBC is Reportedly Planning a Big Broadway Special

Prepare to see a primetime Broadway special on NBC in October, according to Page Six. The network is apparently planning to “revitalize” Broadway with a special starring casts from Broadway shows.

Page Six reports that NBC has invited every Broadway show to perform, but the issue is trying to get casts together when actors have spread all over the country. Also, some producers are hesitant to spend money. Still, Page Six says a number of shows are confirmed, but some are unable to participate.

Now, the big question here is: is is true? Page Six is literally a gossip column, so not the most credible source. The fact that there are no named sources in the article plus NBC’s lack of a comment does concern me. But…I want it to be true! I want to see Broadway on my TV! NBC has had a connection with Broadway for years, and it seems like something that would be great for the network.

Operating under the assumption that this story is accurate, who will we see perform? I assume most of the big shows will be able to do it – the ones who are guaranteed to return when Broadway reopens, like Wicked and Hamilton. I, obviously, hope to see a performance from Hadestown, and it would be nice to see performances from the newer shows that never got their chance before Broadway was shut down, but I am unsure of the likelihood of that occurring.

Whatever happens, I hope this is real and I hope we get to see this on TV when October comes. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we miss Broadway, and I certainly would be happy with whatever we get. But let’s speculate and have some fun! Who do you think will perform? How will it go about being done? Let me know your thoughts!

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Broadway At Home, Theatre Online

Is BroadwayHD Worth It? A Review

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for new ways to consume theatre. That’s where BroadwayHD comes in. I’ve spoken about it before on this blog, but if you need a refresher, BroadwayHD is a streaming service that hosts tons of professionally filmed live theatre performances as well as some films and documentaries. But if you are like me, then you also are hesitant to spend your money without being sure its worth it. I tested out a BroadwayHD subscription to see if it was worth it.

The Price

For me, affordability is huge. First of all, BroadwayHD offers a free trial for a week, which is a great way to test the waters and see if you want to commit to a paid subscription. BroadwayHD costs $8.99 a month, which makes it comparable to Netflix, Hulu and Disney+. Say you watch a couple of shows a month. Compared to Broadway ticket prices, you’re definitely saving tons of money.

BroadwayHD only started in 2015, which means in terms of streaming services its still in its infancy. Add onto that the fact that producers in the past have been largely hesitant to allow filming of their shows means there’s really not that much theatrical content like this out there. So, while I do like the affordable price of the service…the content on it is a little lacking. But only you can decide if the content makes the price worth it for you, so check it out before you choose.

The Catalog

There are a lot of great shows on BroadwayHD. You can find classics like Death of a Salesman or the original Pippin. Or you can go more modern with the film adaptation of The Last Five Years, which is a personal favorite. There is also a lot of PBS’s Great Performances, so if you wanted to watch The King and I with Kelli O’Hara or Audra McDonald in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, you can go right ahead. There’s an extensive vintage category and an extensive Shakespeare category, so there is some variety.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, the catalog is a little lacking, though you can’t really compare the small operation of BroadwayHD to other multi-million dollar streaming services. Still, if you’re a musical fan, you may be a little disappointed in the musical category compared to the Shakespeare category. A lot of the content is from London, so I assume that they have different rules when it comes to filming performances than Broadway. And in my research it appears that there were other shows on there that were removed for whatever reason, specifically some Sondheim shows, which again is disappointing. Overall I like the content on the service, but I do hope they add more.

What I Would Like To See

This is purely my opinion on what I think BroadwayHD should add. I would like to see, of course, more musicals. I know that there is probably a reason why there is not too much and I am sure that it all has to do with money, but I hope they add more musicals. In my research, it appears it once had Company with Raul Esparza and the original Into the Woods, but I did not see them on the service, and having those two alone would make it worth it for me. So I would like to see more of that. Going off of that, I would like to see the service add more exclusive content. A lot of the catalog you can find other places so I think exclusive content would make it more of a must-subscribe. This is obviously a little harder to pull off, but I would really like to see more recent content. Shakespeare is great, but having shows like Kinky Boots and Falsettos set BroadwayHD apart from the rest. More of that, please!

Is it Worth It?

So, after all of that, the question remains: is BroadwayHD worth it? Yes, I think so. While there is certainly room to grow and I have made my issues clear, I really like the idea of having a one-stop shop for theatrical content. I’ll keep my subscription because I’m interested to see how it continues to grow and I do hope they continue to add new, exciting content. There is so much potential here and I can’t wait to see what happens. Check it out for yourself. The free trial means you have nothing to lose.

But, honestly, I’ll keep my subscription as long as they keep Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on there. It’s my guilty pleasure.

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Broadway Shows I Want to See Streaming

It seems like all we talk about these days is streaming. But without live theatre, streaming is all we have. And with the immense success of Hamilton on Disney+, all the streaming services are wanting to get in on streaming Broadway shows.

After the recent news about Diana the musical being filmed for Netflix, Filmed On Stage also revealed that the streaming service is eyeing even more shows to add. The rumored shows include Mrs. Doubtfire, Tina and Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations.

Of course, as more streaming services grow interested in adding theatrical content to their platform, I have my own list of what I would like to see. Here are a few of them – and let me know what you would like to see in the comments!

1. Beetlejuice

A victim of COVID-19 closures, this show grew a massive online following due to its popularity on TikTok. While there are still rumors about it potentially moving theatres, even if it doesn’t reopen a professionally filmed version of Beetlejuice would probably be incredibly successful. The show’s fandom stretches farther than those in the NYC area, and it being closed along with the uncertainty of a tour means that the common argument of losing ticket sales may not be valid here. And since it’s produced by Warner Bros., it would be a perfect fit on HBO Max. It’s a fun show with wide appeal, which makes it perfect for streaming.

2. Waitress

Although this one did close a while ago on Broadway, I would still love it if the cast reunited to record the show onstage so it could be streamed. You could even have Sara Bareilles herself star in it, or maybe the London cast which also was a victim to COVID-19. The Sara Bareilles connection would also make it a great fit for Apple TV+, which being relatively new to the streaming game means this could be its big chance to break into the theatre streaming wars.

3. Hadestown

Netflix, are you listening? I would give so much money to have a filmed version of Hadestown. I honestly believe that with the right marketing, it could be as big as Hamilton. It’s such an incredible show, and any streaming platform would be lucky to get their hands on it. Plus, the performances of the original cast are so amazing that they deserve to be immortalized. Please, if nothing else, we need to be able to stream Hadestown.

4. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

This one is a commercial success (though, if you are a Harry Potter fan like I am, you may have your own opinions about the content of the play) and though I’m sure Warner Bros. are saving this one for a film when the Fantastic Beasts series runs out, it would be great to have the stage production to watch whenever. I’ve heard such wonderful things about the staging and it would be so nice to to see this play without having to pay the exorbitant Broadway prices. Plus, it just makes sense from a commercial standpoint – it appeals to the non-theatre fans as well.

What do you think? What shows would you love to be able to stream? Let me know below!

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Diana on Broadway Comes to Netflix: Theatre Streaming Wars Continue

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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?

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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.

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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.

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The Best Broadway Shows You Can Stream

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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.