Host Luisa Lyons chats with the person who inspired the entire Filmed Live Musicals project, Ellen M. Krass!
Ellen M. Krass is the Emmy award winning producer behind the live captures of The Robber Bridegroom, Little Johnny Jones, Follies in Concert, Sweeney Todd with Angela Lansbury and George Hearn, Sweeney Todd with the San Francisco Philharmonic, Candide with the New York Philharmonic, the Broadway revival of Company starring Raul Esparza, Sondheim The Birthday Concert, Company with the New York Philharmonic starring Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone, Stephen Colbert et al., Gypsy Live from the Savoy starring Imelda Staunton, and the Broadway revival of She Loves Me, which was the first Broadway musical to be livestreamed online.
Ellen shares her insights into her historic journey working in film and television, and filming live theatre for the screen.
Visit the Filmed Live Musicals database to learn where to watch all the musicals that Ellen has produced!
FLM is excited to announce our new Social Media Manager, Alexander Ríos!
Alexander is a New York City based performer who is passionate about filmed live musicals! After living overseas for the majority of his life, Alexander discovered his love for performing in college where he majored in Theatre with a Minor in Musical Theatre at the University of Mary Washington.
When not performing, Alexander manages the FLM social media account spreading knowledge & access of filmed musical theatre with the rest of the world. His favorite filmed performance is the 2006 Broadway revival of “Company” starring Raul Esparza.
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BroadwayHD partners with NBC Universal
BroadwayHD is partnering with NBC Universal to stream the filmed live musicals Shrek the Musical and Prince of Egypt, along with the filmed live TV musicals The Wiz Live!, Hairspray Live!, and The Sound of Music Live!
BroadwayHD Release Dates:
Sept. 1: The Wiz Live!
Oct. 1: Hairspray Live!
Oct. 15: Shrek the Musical
Nov. 1: The Sound of Music Live!
Nov. 15: The Prince of Egypt: The Musical
Dec. 1: Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour: The Movie
The recent record breaking Taylor Swift tour was filmed live at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and released as a concert film. Within 24 hours of going on sale in late August, the film had sold $26 million worth of tickets — smashing the record for single-day ticket sales at AMC — and within a month had surpassed $100 million in worldwide sales. According to Variety, it’s possible that the concert will sell $100 million in tickets in North America alone. Can you imagine if Tay Tay decides to turn her attention from visiting football stadiums and takes in a Broadway show, or even gives a regional theatre a much needed lift?! Beyonce’s Renaissance World Tour, which is set to gross $2 billion worldwide, has also been filmed and is set for release on December 1.
Filmed Live Musicals in Fixing the Musical
I was reading through Doug Reside's fascinating new book Fixing the Musical: How Technologies Shaped the Broadway Repertory and got a lovely surprise to see my own name and Filmed Live Musicals cited as a source!
This Week on the Calendar
Find out where to stream these musicals and more on the Filmed Live Musicals calendar.
Sugar, Butter, Release Date Pie: Waitress Opening Up in Cinemas
Sara Bareilles’ musical based on the 2007 Adrienne Shelley film was filmed live on Broadway in 2021 starring Bareilles, Charity Angél Dawson, Caitlin Houlahan, Drew Gehling, Dakin Matthews, Eric Anderson, and Christopher Fitzgerald. After premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in June 2023, the film will be released in cinemas across the United States by Fathom Events on December 7, 2023.
HEX Released on National Theatre at Home
Based on Sleeping Beauty, the new musical by Tanya Ronder, Jim Fortune, and Rufus Norris was filmed live at the National Theatre during its run in late 2022/early 2023. Available on demand via the National Theatre’s At Home.
RuneSical to be Released Online
A choose-your-own adventure musical comedy, RuneSical was created by British company GiggleMug. The musical was filmed live at The Town & Gown Theatre in Cambridge. It will be available for free on YouTube from September 29, 2023.
There can be miracles! The Prince of Egypt to be Released in Cinemas and Streamed Online
A musical adaptation of the DreamWorks animation which tells the story of Moses learning his true identity and following his destiny to be the leader of his people. Filmed live in the West End in 2019, The Prince of Egypt will be released in cinemas worldwide by Trafalgar Releasing on October 19, and online in the United States via BroadwayHD on November 15, 2023.
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On the calendar
This week in the *new look* streaming calendar:
The Eras Tour
Taylor Swift has announced that a film of her recent record-breaking Eras Tour, filmed live at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles in August, will be released in North American cinemas on October 13. Deadline reported that sales exceeded well over $10 million on the first day of the presale. If only theatre had a way to emulate the model of filming a live event with limited seats and making it available to millions of fans around the world…
The Prince of Egypt: Live from the West End
Disney’s stage adaptation of the 1998 animation was filmed live in the West End at the Dominion Theatre in 2021. According to Filmed on Stage the musical will be released in cinemas in the UK and Ireland in October, 2023.
Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love
A 2013 documentary all about composer Marvin Hamlisch is now available to stream for free on All Arts. A composer, conductor, musical genius like no other, Marvin Hamlisch is the artist responsible for some of the most iconic music of our time. Hits like the Broadway sensation A Chorus Line and Oscar winning scores for The Way We Were and The Sting cemented his place in music history. At the extraordinary age of 31 he became one of two PEGOT winners ever, having won a total of 4 Grammys, 3 Oscars, an Emmy, Tony and a Pulitzer prize. Featuring interviews with close friends including: Barbra Streisand, Woody Allen, Carly Simon, Steven Soderbergh, Quincy Jones and many more. Directed by Dori Berinstein. Available on All Arts.
Michael Jackson ONE: MJ Blue Sapphire Celebration of the King of Pop’s Birthday
A special panel and performance featuring the cast of ONE by Cirque du Soleil, a state-of-the-art visual and audio experience dedicated to the creative legacy of one of the most successful recording artists of all time, Michael Jackson. Features an interview with MJ: The Musical star and Tony Award winner Myles Frost. Filmed live at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Available on demand for free via YouTube.
Support a new musical: Grace and the Ghost
Written by up and coming composers Anna DeNoia and Joshua Villa, Grace and the Ghost tells the story of a reclusive young musician who spends her days alone in her room, singing songs for the friend she’s imagined in the shadow on her wall. When a city-wide blackout leaves her without light, however, she discovers her “imaginary friend” has been listening. In the darkness, Shadow is able to move around uninhibited, physicalized by Grace’s touch. The two discover how they are connected, explore the consequences of making physical contact, and wrestle with who should hold ownership over the body that exists between them— a depressed, living person who wishes they could disappear, or a spirit who wishes for a second chance. Learn more at Indiegogo.
On the Calendar:
Get your international fix of Americana this week with cinema screenings of the National Theatre’s Oklahoma!, livestream events from The Great American Songbook Academy, or stream the Philip Glass opera about Walt Disney filmed live at the Teatro Real de Madrid.
? Stranger Sings
It’s your last chance to catch a stream of the Stranger Things parody musical - available at prime times around the world this weekend.
? Sing for me
Catch Broadway performers in new cabarets and discover a musical improvised from the love story of a couple in the audience.
? Go to the festival
There are a slew of new musicals to stream from the New York’s Ice Factory Festival and the Orlando DigiFringe.
New on the website: A Store!
New on the website this week is a store page with links to purchase musical theatre books, DVDs and Blu-Rays, sheet music, cast albums, and musicals on demand! Not only can you find musical theatre treasures to keep and stream, you’ll be supporting Filmed Live Musicals with every purchase! Learn more at the Filmed Live Musicals store.
Oklahoma! in cinemas!
To celebrate the 80th anniversary of Rodgers and Hammertein’s iconic musical, the 1998 National Theatre production starring Hugh Jackman, Maureen Lipman, Josefina Gabrielle, and Shuler Hensley is being released in cinemas worldwide July 16, 18, and 19. Check Oklahoma in Cinemas for local listings.
The UK touring production of Maury Yeston’s stunning musical about the ill-fated ship has teased the making of a film on Twitter. More details to come!
Business & Marketing Strategy For The Proactive Performer: Former podcast guest Kimberly Faye Greenberg, is not only the star and writer of the gorgeous one-woman show Fabulous Fanny: The Songs and Stories of Fanny Brice, she is a terrific performer business coach, and she has a new book coming out. Featuring “Actionable Tips, Tricks, and Templates Including...How To Get Representation, Approach Casting, Auditioning, Creating Your Own Work, and Working Smarter and Not Harder To Achieve Career Success!” Available in paperback from August 8. Pre-order now.
Garland – That’s Beyond Entertainment – Reflections on Judy Garland: a new highly praised book that is not a traditional birth-to-death biography, but a deep dive that aims to remove Garland from the simplistic realm of such epithets as “world’s greatest entertainer” and “Miss Show Business” and reconsider her as one of the greatest singers of the 20th century’s Great American Songbook, one who took us beyond entertainment to a level of artistry unique in classic American popular music. The two volume book took over 30 years to complete and is written by award-winning music producer, critic, and translator Lawrence Schulman. Available now - Volume I from Amazon. Volume II from Amazon.
Gerswhin’s Rhapsody in Blue with piano soloist Leonard Bernstein
I loved Good Night, Oscar with Sean Hayes playing Rhapsody in Blue live on stage, but would have loved for that scene to have been performed with a live orchestra! Carnegie Hall Plus have kind of granted my wish by releasing a 1976 performance of Gershwin’s stunning piece with the inimitable Leonard Bernstein at the piano.
Two weeks ago in the post "Tickets, Please", we took a brief look at the new ways in which ticketing companies are attempting to reach theatre audiences as a result of the pandemic. Another solution to keep steering people back to the theatre is re-vamping the concept of the drive-in. Over the summer, drive-in theatres were popping up all over the place.
Prague in the Czech Republic hosted a multi-genre drive-in theatre festival called Art Parking from May to through to June. The festival included live performance and cinema screenings, and was reportedly seen by 11,000 people.
In September, Prima Theatre (who were featured on Episode 3 of the Filmed Live Musicals podcast) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania hosted a drive-in concert, Brave and Beautiful, featuring the music of all-female singers and singer-songwriters. Performed on the back of a 30-foot flatbed truck, the concert was also available for hire for neighborhood performances in Lancaster.
Six, the smash hit West End musical about the wives of Henry VIII, had announced a drive-in tour taking place throughout the UK. The tour was unfortunately cancelled due to local restrictions, and I had hoped it would be a chance for a filmed live version to be released. Instead, the musical announced shortly after that it will now perform a limited 11-week engagement in the West End at the Lyric Theatre, commencing November 14th. The original London cast also reunited for a special pop concert that was streamed live on October 10. Give us the musical already! #SorryNotSorry.
Kicking off at the end of September, Radial Park at Halletts Point Astoria Queens began “Broadway at the Drive-In”, a new drive-in cinema that includes live performances along with film screenings. New Yorkers without cars can rent picnic tables, which come with retro boom boxes. The first film on the calendar was Phantom of the Opera, filmed live not on Broadway but at Royal Albert Hall in London. The screening included in-person performances by Broadway performers Ali Ewoldt and Derrick Davis.
Contract negotiations for filming live theatre often did not foresee digital content. Will they have room for the drive-in?
"And when our children tell our story..."
Today is Memorial Day, a day where we remember and honor the people who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. I don’t personally have loved ones who served for the United States, but my grandparents were liberated from Japanese occupation in the Philippines by American troops.
I think it is poignant that seventy years later, a Filipino actor, Lea Salonga, would depict a Japanese-American civilian interned on American soil in the Broadway musical Allegiance. Loosely based on actor George Takei’s experiences, Allegiance depicts the terrible treatment of Japanese-American citizens in the US, and the Japanese-American soldiers who fought for the US, during World War II. The musical opened on Broadway in 2015, and was later screened in cinemas around the US. It is now available on (a rather expensive) DVD, and from May 29 will stream for a limited time on Broadway on Demand.
Similarly set during the Second World War, Bandstand tells the story of Donny Novitsk, a musician who has returned from the war traumatized, but with the desire to re-build his life following the death of his best friend. Opening on Broadway in 2017, the musical was the first theatrical production to be certified by Got Your 6, a veteran’s advocacy organization whose work includes promoting the authentic portrayal of the military in entertainment. Bandstand was filmed live during its run and broadcast in cinemas across North America. To commemorate Memorial Day, the musical is available to stream for a small fee ($6.99 US) on Broadway on Demand from May 25th at 7.30pm, until June 2.
Also set on American soil, though two centuries earlier, the worldwide mega-hit and possibly the most-anticipated filmed live musical ever to be released, Hamilton, tells the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, and covers battles in the Revolutionary War. Hamilton, filmed live on Broadway in 2016, will be released on Disney+ on July 3.
Returning to World War II, and moving to the southern hemisphere, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1949 musical South Pacific, was the first Broadway musical to explore stories of race and war. White characters Nellie Forbush, a nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas, and Lt Cable from Princeton, New Jersey, learn to overcome racial prejudice when they fall in love whilst stationed in Polynesia. The 2005 Carnegie Hall benefit production starring Reba McEntire, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Alec Baldwin is available on DVD. The 2008 Lincoln Center revival directed by Bartlett Sher, and starring Kelli O’Hara and Paulo Szot, was broadcast on American television on Live from Lincoln Center. It is not currently officially available to view.
Staying in the Asia-Pacific region, but moving to a later conflict, Miss Saigon tells of the ill-fated love between a young Vietnamese woman, Kim, and an American G.I., Chris. An adaptation of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, Miss Saigon first opened in London in 1989 (starring the aforementioned Lea Salonga), and ran for ten years, becoming a worldwide sensation. To celebrate the musical’s 25th anniversary, producer Cameron Mackintosh revived Miss Saigon in the West End in 2014. The production was filmed and broadcast in cinemas, and is now available on Amazon (UK) and BroadwayHD.
Again returning to World War II, but this time in Europe, An American in Paris tells the story of a young American soldier who falls in love in Paris at the end of the war. Based on a film, which was based on George Gershwin’s “tone poem,” the stage production premiered in Paris at the Théâtre du Châtelet in 2014, before transferring to Broadway in 2015 and the West End in 2017. The London production was filmed live and broadcast in cinemas around the world, and is now available on BroadwayHD.
The lesser-known musical YANK! also tells the story of soldiers falling in love, depicting the gay world that “thrived just beneath the surface of the US Army in the 1940s.” The musical was a hit of the NY Musical Theatre Festival in 2005, and had a successful off-Broadway run in 2010. Below 54th hosted a 10th anniversary concert earlier this year, and the video is currently available on YouTube.
Apart from war, one of the recurring themes across all of these musicals is love. We honor and remember with love, and that is the story that will continue to be told.
My dance card is getting full! The end of 2018 is shaping up to be something wonderful for Filmed Live Musicals with several new filmed live releases on the horizon. Find out what's coming to a cinema near you!
Emma, a new “soundstage musical” created by Paul Gordon (co-creator of Daddy Long Legs, the first off-Broadway musical to be livestreamed), was released on the newly launched Streaming Musicals on October 3.
Funny Girl starring Sheridan Smith and filmed live on the West End by Digital Theatre will screen globally in select cinemas on October 24. Go to https://www.funnygirlincinemas.com/ for local listings.
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the hit Broadway musical Wicked, NBC will present "A Very Wicked Halloween” on October 29th. The concert will be performed at the Marquis Theatre, with original leading ladies Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel hosting.
Filmed live in London, An American in Paris will air on PBS on November 2. It will also be available to stream through the PBS website on November 3, and is already available to stream on BroadwayHD.
The West End musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie will be screened in select cinemas across the United States on November 7, with encore screenings on November 11 and 14. To find local listings visit https://www.jamieincinemas.com/.
The acclaimed Lincoln Center revival of The King and I transferred to the West End this year, opening at the Palladium. The production was filmed live and will be released in the United States on November 29 and December 4 under the title The King And I: From The Palladium. Find local listings at https://www.kingandimusicalcinema.com.
“I'm sorry theater only exists in one place at a time but that is also its magic.”
There is a widespread belief that watching theatre on screen means you’re no longer experiencing “theatre.” While I would agree that the phenomenon of theatre on screen needs a new name, there is a small but growing body of research to show that watching filmed live theatre is just as exciting a way of experiencing theatre as being in the room where it happens.
Given that the vast majority of filmed live theatre is coming from the United Kingdom, it should come as no surprise that the research is also being conducted there. Arts Council England, the Society of London Theatres (SOLT), UK Theatre, and, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), have all released reports investigating audiences’ responses to watching live theatre on screen.
A finding across across all the reports is that watching theatre on screen is not a replacement for live theatre, but an alternative way to consume it. In writing about enjoying opera on the cinema screen, British commentator Clemency Burton-Hill wrote
while there is nothing like sitting in the plush red velvet of the Royal Opera House stalls, waiting in anticipation for that legendary red-and-gilt curtain to rise, watching it in the cinema is an exhilarating alternative when I can’t be there in person."
The research also shows that audiences can have strong emotional reactions to live theatre on screen. During real-time live broadcasts, audiences have reported feeling a part of the live experience, despite not being physically in the theatre.
Shakespeare scholar Erin Sullivan reiterates this in the newly published Shakespeare and the ‘Live’ Theatre Broadcast Experience, adding that audiences do not even need to be viewing a broadcast in real time in order to be moved by theatre on screen. Watching a live performance on screen, even years after the performance has taken place can still generate an emotional response. Sullivan also discusses how social media has allowed audiences to engage with content in a new way, making “spectatorship visible in a way that has not been previously possible.”
The internet is not only creating new ways of interacting with theatre, recent reports suggest that streamed theatre attracts a younger, and a more culturally, and economically, diverse audience. As columnist Christopher Zara has noted, “streaming media [makes] Broadway more accessible,… ultimately preserving it for the next generation.”
And what about the room where it happens? Is theatre on screen negatively affecting ticket sales in the theatre? The Audience Agency, a British charity aiming to help arts organizations use national data to understand audiences, recently found that there was “a small net increase in arts attendance in areas where there had been a screening.” In an earlier blog post, I took a look at how Broadway ticket sales are affected by filmed live theatre and found that ticket sales were not negatively affected.
In an article comparing the experience of watching Kenneth Brannaugh’s Romeo and Juliet on stage and screen, British theatre critic Peter Bradshaw noted “People watching a football match on TV as opposed to in the stadium can still have a great time – without worrying that it’s inauthentic, or that they have somehow made a wrong or disloyal choice.” While academics Bernadette Cochrane and Francer Bonner believe comparing live theatre to live sport on screen will reduce the “cultural capital” of theatre, the research is showing that live theatre on screen is a viable alternative to being in the room where it happens.
The magic of technology means we can experience theatre magic in a room thousands of miles from where the action is taking place. Will you be in the next room?
Filmed Live Musicals is a labor of love that takes many hours of research and hundreds of dollars to run.
Thank you to Star patrons Mercedes Esteban-Lyons, Jesse Rabinowitz and Brenda Goodman, and David and Katherine Rabinowitz for financially supporting the site.
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Musical lovers, we live in a whole new world. Not only can we stream filmed live musicals on demand, we can experience them in 360º.
Well, stand alone numbers, at least for now.
In the past few years, musical theatre producers have started filming production numbers in 360º and releasing them for free on YouTube. Although perhaps best experienced in VR, 360º captures are available to anyone through a regular screen or mobile device.
Let’s take a brief chronological tour of 360º musical theatre captures!
In October 2015, School of Rock released a first-of-its-kind promotional 360º video which attracted over 1 million views within 3 days. A month later, Disney released its own 360º video of the opening number from The Lion King, which was filmed in front of a live audience.
In the lead up to the 2016 Tony Awards, CBS released a 360º video of the Hamilton cast preparing for the ceremony.
In November 2016, The New York Times launched “The Daily 360,” a daily series of 360º videos as a way of providing readers with a “new way to experience” journalism. The series capitalized on the success of the newspaper’s 2015 launch of NYT VR, an app for viewing specially created VR content. Broadway themed videos have included rehearsal footage from Cirque du Soleil’s Broadway show Paramour, the chance to descend in Glinda’s bubble from Wicked, and “last looks” at Amelie and Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.
Never afraid to use new technology to promote his shows, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera released a video of the Broadway cast experiencing scenes from the show in VR in August 2017.
In September 2017, Dear Evan Hansen released a 360º video celebrating fans of the show, though the video did not include footage from the musical. Carnegie Hall also jumped in on the 360º action with the release of “Cool” from a new production of West Side Story directed by Marin Alsop.
Since September 2017, NBC Nightly News has been releasing 360º clips from Broadway musicals including Come From Away, Anastasia, The Band’s Visit, School of Rock, Once on This Island, and Waitress.
To celebrate Wicked’s 10th anniversary in London in December 2017, TimeOut London released a 360º video featuring backstage footage from the Apollo Theatre.
In June 2018, Disney released another 360º video, this time featuring “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin. The video features bonus content activated by turning “over, sideways, and under” as you scroll around.
It might be a little while until we can experience 360º captures of full-length musicals, but in the meantime, let’s hope more more producers allow us to take virtual spins through musical worlds.
Filmed Live Musicals is a labor of love that takes many hours of research and hundreds of dollars to run.
Thank you to Star patrons Mercedes Esteban-Lyons, Jesse Rabinowitz and Brenda Goodman, and David and Katherine Rabinowitz for financially supporting the site.
Become a patron today.
For as little as $1 a month you can support original research and gain access to bonus content not available on the site.