This morning I was watching the wonderful Lincoln Center concerts featuring Stephanie J. Block (who gave a killer performance in Falsettos) and Sutton Foster on BroadwayHD. The delightful Megan McGinnis made a guest appearance in Sutton’s concert, and it reminded me how much I love Daddy Long Legs, the first off-Broadway musical to be livestreamed.
It got me thinking about the filmed live musicals that I've fallen in love with over the years, and so, in no particular order, here are a few of my favorites.
Company with the New York Philharmonic
Filmed live at Lincoln Center in 2011, the New York Philharmonic production features a starry cast including Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone, Stephen Colbert, Martha Plimpton, and Anika Noni Rose.
I love this version for its slick production values, amazing performances, and because it was the first filmed live musical I saw in the cinema. It was also the inspiration for starting this database.
Into the Woods
The original Broadway production was taped in 1989, screened on PBS, and eventually made available on VHS and DVD. It was one of the first filmed live musicals I ever saw, and made the world of Broadway accessible to an aspiring theatre nerd who grew up 16,000 miles away.
The Digital Theatre capture of the 2010 Regent’s Park Open Air production of Into the Woods is also a highlight. Steam-punk inspired costumes, a clever use of the narrator, and a great capture that puts you right in the action.
Daddy Long Legs
When Daddy Long Legs was livestreamed in December 2015, I was recovering from treatment for leukemia. Low energy and a compromised immune system meant going to the theatre was not an option for me. It was thrilling to be able to watch an off-Broadway show from the comfort of my couch. The @BroadwayHD capture of this intimate show is top notch, as are the performances by the aforementioned Megan McGinnis and her real-life husband Adam Halpin.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
The 2014 New York Philharmonic production directed by Lonny Price hands down has one of the best opening sequences ever filmed. This was another production I watched during my leukemia convalescence, and I literally squealed out loud in my lounge room. I’m so sad this capture is no longer available to view or purchase.
Les Miserables: The Dream Cast in Concert
Everything about this concert filmed live at Royal Albert Hall in 1995 is EPIC. The score. The cast of 250 artists and 100 musicians. Philip Quast as Javert. The finale with 17 Jean Valjeans singing “Do You Hear the People Sing?” in multiple languages. What is there not to love?!
When Hell Freezes Over I’ll Skate
The 1979 Theatre in America recording, now available on DVD, is a chance to see a unique “musical drama” and a tiny sample of the ground-breaking work by director and writer Vinnette Carroll. The capture feels a little dated, but it does a wonderful job of preserving some powerful performances.
What are your favorite filmed live musicals? Share in the comments, or on twitter and facebook!
It’s an exciting time to be a lover of filmed live musicals. It sometimes seems like new shows are being announced every week, and in the coming months we will be able to enjoy recent Broadway and West End musicals on the big screen.
Here is a list of recent releases and what is coming up in 2018.
The Toxic Avenger
Filmed live during its run at the Arts Theatre in London in 2017, The Toxic Avenger is a quirky and dark humored musical about New Jersey’s very own superhero. The musical was recently screened at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, and is now available to stream on BroadwayHD.
The Wind in the Willows
Filmed live during its West End run in 2017, this new Stiles and Drewe musical was screened in cinemas throughout the UK during the Easter period in 2018. The Wind in the Willows is now available to stream on BroadwayHD.
One of Bowie’s final projects was the off-Broadway musical Lazarus. The London production, starring Michael C. Hall, was filmed live during its run at the purpose built King’s Cross Theatre. The May 2 screening at the King's Theatre in Brooklyn featured live accompaniment by the original off-Broadway band.
Coming Up in 2018
An American in Paris
The highly acclaimed and multi-award winning Théâtre du Châtelet production of An American Paris received Broadway and West End productions. The West End production was filmed live in 2017 and will be released in cinemas around the world on May 16, 2018. To find tickets, visit the musical’s official film website.
Everyone’s Talking About Jamie
Inspired by true events, Everyone’s Talking About Jamie is a musical about Jamie New’s coming-of-age on the Sheffield council estate, overcoming prejudice and finding the spotlight. More2Screen will screen the smash-hit West End musical in cinemas in the UK and Ireland on July 5, 2018. The rest of the world will be able to watch the popular musical in cinemas later in the year.
A Broadway musical about American soldiers returning home after World War II, Bandstand was filmed during its run at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. The musical will be available in cinemas through Fathom Events on June 25 and 28, 2018.
Inspired by true events from George Takei's life, Allegiance is a musical about the internment of Japanese American citizens in the United States during World War II. A DVD release of the live capture has been announced, but a date has not yet been set.
A new streaming network dedicated to live theatre content is slated to launch in August. Learn more at http://www.thestagenetwork.com/.
During the recently held CinemaCon in Vegas, digital content provider NAGRA announced the launch of myCinema. Similar to Fathom Events, myCinema will provide movie theatres with new alternative content, including live theatre. No announcements have been made about what offerings will be available through myCinema, but it’s exciting to see more platforms trying to make filmed live theatre content available to the world.
Know of other filmed live musicals heading to the big screen? Let me know in the comments or feel free to get in touch!