So, 2020, huh?! It has been a tumultuous, painful, bizarre year with so much loss, grief, and uncertainty. But on the other side of darkness, there is light. And if one good thing has come out of the pandemic, it’s that filmed live theatre content is more available than ever. From Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Shows Must Go Online, The National Theatre and Met Opera’s weekly streams, Disney+ releasing Hamilton, to smaller independent theatres like Southwark Playhouse, Wise Children, or Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe releasing previously filmed content, and creating new musicals to stream.
This year I launched the Filmed Live Musicals podcast. I chatted with director and writer Al Monaco, Tony nominee Brenda Braxton, the founder of Scenesaver Caroline Friedman, the executive director of Sarasota’s Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe Julie Leach, dancer and engineer Lena Wolfe, actor and puppeteer David Colston Corris, actor and producer Kimberly Faye Greenberg, academic Kelly Kessler, dancer and associate choreographer Barry Busby, collector Robert Sokol, and the award-winning composer Paul Gordon! The Filmed Live Musicals podcast is available for download wherever you listen to podcasts, and transcripts are available for each episode.
The Filmed Live Musicals database currently has information on nearly 200 musicals. The list I’m currently working on has almost twice that! And that’s not even including musicals that have been filmed without an audience, or the new genre of “zoomsicals”, musicals performed over Zoom.
In 2021, I’m looking forward to continuing to grow the site, learning about new filmed live musicals, and spotlighting artists from all around the world who make them happen.
My Favorite Things (2020)
To close out 2020, here's a list (in no particular order) of my favorite filmed live musicals released this year!
Filmed Live Without an Audience
Zoomsicals (musicals performed online/virtually)
What did you see this year that you loved?
Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter and Facebook!
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Thank you to patrons Josh Brandon, Rachel Esteban, Mercedes Esteban-Lyons, Al Monaco, Jesse Rabinowitz & Brenda Goodman, David & Katherine Rabinowitz, and Bec Twist, for financially supporting Filmed Live Musicals.
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It's the final episode for 2020 of the Filmed Live Musicals podcast!
This week, I chat with writer, designer, and publisher Robert Sokol. We talk about Robert’s extensive cast recording collection, cast recordings in languages other than English, how changing the language affects a musical, the pros and cons of recordings going digital, Japanese takarazuka theatre, watching theatre online, and more!
Robert Sokol is a writer, designer, publisher, and producer. Credits include leadership roles with the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, the TBA Awards program, and the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), as well as concerts, conferences, and other events from New York to Los Angeles. Robert and his husband Ron Willis own VIA MEDIA, which provides playbill publishing and other creative services as BAYSTAGES. A Munich native, he has been collecting musical cast recordings for half a century and specializes in translations of Broadway and West End musicals. You can follow Robert on Facebook.
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When I wrote my Masters thesis on Filmed Live Musicals back in 2012, there was exactly ONE online platform dedicated to streaming musical theatre, the UK’s Digital Theatre. Over the past nine years, especially the past year, online streaming has boomed. There are now over a dozen streaming services providing filmed live theatre content including BroadwayHD, Broadway on Demand, Streaming Musicals and more!
Two new platforms have launched in the past month, Stage2View and stream.theatre.
Stage2View is a new pay-per-view streaming service based in the UK. Launched in mid-November, the platform is aiming to provide live theatre and music content.
The platform was founded by Austin Shaw, Joshua Andrews, and Stuart Galbraith, a team with quite a bit of experience in filmed live musicals. Shaw also runs Stage2View Films, which co-produced the captures of The Phantom of the Opera, The King & I, 42nd Street and Kinky Boots. Andrews and Galbraith are the founders of Kilimanjaro, the UK’s leading music act promoters, who also Kilimanjaro Theatrical which co-produced An American in Paris. Their other other Broadway and West End credits include Pretty Woman, Noises Off, 9 to 5 The Musical, Hadestown, and Mrs Doubtfire.
The Stage2View catalogue currently only contains 9 titles (all of which are already available on BroadwayHD), however the catalogue is expected to grow once theatres re-open for business. Current titles include 42nd Street, Kinky Boots, From Here to Eternity: The Musical, An American in Paris, The Wind in the Willows: The Musical, Hetty Feather, Ruthless! The Musical, and The Toxic Avenger.
stream.theatre is the British division of Broadway on Demand. Launched in September 2020, the company aims to be provide an accessible platform for streaming theatre content. Current titles include NAMT’s 32nd Annual Festival of New Musicals, Falling Stars, The Last Five Years, two concerts filmed live at St Paul’s Church A West End Christmas and We Need a Little Christmas, and E15 Jazz Sessions recorded live from Stratford Circus Arts Centre.
It’s not a platform (yet), but Sony have announced they now have a 50% ownership of Seaview, the theatre company behind the Broadway productions Slave Play and Sea Wall/A Life. Between the two companies, upcoming stage productions include Sing Street, a musical adaptation of the film that was scheduled to open on Broadway just after the shutdown, and Lempicka, a new musical directed by Rachel Chavkin about the life of artist Tamara de Lempicka. I have a pretty good feeling that Sony will be jumping into the streaming market before too long.
What platforms are you using to watch filmed live theatre? Since the beginning of the pandemic, I've been keeping a running list of where to find streams. Visit Filmed Live Musicals to learn more.
This week on the podcast, I chat Tony nominated composer Paul Gordon.
Topics include Jane Eyre, Daddy Long Legs, how union rules impact artists, the differences between subscription and pay-per-view models, why filming musicals is important, and making theatre more accessible, sustainable, and fair.
Paul Gordon was nominated for a 2001 Tony Award for composing the music and lyrics to the musical Jane Eyre. He won the 2015 Jeff Award for Best New Work for his book, music and lyrics for Sense and Sensibility, commissioned by Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. His critically acclaimed stage musicals, EMMA and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE are available to stream on Amazon Prime. He is the recipient of the 2009 Ovation Award for his music and lyrics to Daddy Long Legs which has had productions all over the world, including Off-Broadway, where it was nominated for 2 Drama Desk Awards, an Off-Broadway Alliance Award and 3 Outer Critic Circle awards. Daddy Long Legs was also the first off-Broadway musical to be livestreamed. No One Called Ahead was filmed and released in June of 2019. Knight’s Tale, written with John Caird, opened at the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo in 2018 while the concert version debuted in 2020 with the Tokyo Philharmonic. His other shows include: Being Earnest, Estella Scrooge: A Christmas Carol with a Twist, Analog and Vinyl, Stellar Atmospheres, The Front, Juliet and Romeo, Sleepy Hollow, The Circle and The Sportswriter. In his former life, Paul was a pop songwriter and wrote several number one hits.
Learn more about Paul Gordon at www.paul-gordon.weebly.com/ and follow him on Twitter.