Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the inaugural Women’s Day on Broadway. The day featured 5 panels covering various aspects of the representation of women on Broadway. I live-tweeted the day, and you can catch up here!
Several panelists made reference to the fact that women purchase over 60% of Broadway tickets, yet make up only 17% of the creative teams on Broadway.
With this in mind, I wanted to take a look at the representation of women in the production teams of filmed live musicals. I made a record of the production positions for each musical, including stage director, film director, producer (film only), book writer, composer (music/lyrics), choreographer, lighting design, sound design, scenic design, costume design, orchestrator, musical director, and stage manager.
From this record, I made a list of all the women currently in the Filmed Live Musicals database. While the 124 filmed live musicals represent a tiny sample of all musical theatre offerings (and does not yet include musicals in languages other than English), it provides insight into the gender disparity in the industry as a whole.
Over half, 75 of 124, filmed live musicals have at least 1 named woman in the production team. Not a single musical had an entirely female production team, and only one, Bad Girls, could claim half the production team was comprised of women.
Comparing each production position, women were more likely to be the costume designer, producer, or choreographer.
It is worth noting that musicals with female producers also had the highest number of women in key creative positions.
Only 6 musicals (0.04%) had both producers and directors who are women, including Legally Blonde, Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, Merrily We Roll Along, When Hell Freezes Over I’ll Skate, Pippin, and Bad Girls.
A tiny total of 10 filmed live musicals (0.08%) had a female stage director, and just 3 musicals (0.02%), had a female film director. Vinnette Carroll was the only female to serve as both film and stage director (for When Hell Freezes Over I’ll Skate).
When it comes to writing the musicals, the representation of women is incredibly low.
The music of filmed live musicals is also lacking in female representation.
Representation of women in the design team is sorely lacking.
While over half of the filmed live musicals in the database have at least 1 female in a named production position, the above figures show that women do not have equal representation in the production teams.
Just a few days ago, on March 16, 2018, The League of Professional Theatre Women launched an initiative entitled #OneMoreConversation. The initiative aims to encourage theatre decision-makers to have “one more conversation” with a woman before finalizing hiring to try and bring more women in the process.
While the number of women in the Filmed Live Musicals database reflects the low representation of women on Broadway, it is important to note that Broadway musicals only make up a small portion, 17%, of the musicals in the database. It will be interesting to see if the low representation of women changes as more musicals, and more musicals from a wider range of countries, are added to the database.
Let's hope with the continuation of Women's Day on Broadway and #OneMoreConversation, we will see more women in musical theatre production teams, and more of those musicals being filmed live for a wider audience to enjoy.