On episode 2 of the Filmed Live Musicals podcast, Luisa chats with Caroline Friedman, founder of new theatre streaming of Scenesaver.
Scenesaver is the only website making performances from off Broadway, off- West End, small theatres, and emerging artists accessible to everyone online. It's free to register and watch with 150 shows of all genres from around the world available now. New work is being added all the time.
Available on all podcast apps now!
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.
Today we celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s 88th year of being alive.
The 2011 Lincoln Center production of Sondheim’s Company starring Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone, and Stephen Colbert, et al., was the inspiration for the Filmed Live Musicals database. During an interview taped for the cinema screening, producer Ellen M. Krass claimed it had been difficult to get funding to film Company because investors had not heard of a filmed live musical.
Who were these people?! Had they not grown up watching the original Broadway production of Into the Woods on VHS or DVD? Were they oblivious to the taping of Sunday in the Park with George? Or Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd?
As a result of watching Company, I wrote my Masters Thesis on filmed live musicals. Several years later, not a day went by when I wasn’t thinking about it. The Filmed Live Musicals was database was born.
With 20 entries spanning 11 different musicals, Stephen Sondheim has more musicals in the Filmed Live Database than any other composer. For comparison’s sake, Gilbert and Sullivan have 8 entries, Dan Coggin has 6 entries for the Nunsense series, and Andrew Lloyd Webber (who is also celebrating his birthday today) has 4 entries.
In the extraordinary interview Face to Face: Stephen Sondheim (available to stream on BroadwayHD), Sondheim stated “I’m very into film technique and its application to the stage.” If I ever get the chance to meet Sondheim, when I’m done losing my mind, I would love to know about his involvement, or encouragement, in the live filming of his musicals.
To honor of Sondheim’s birthday, here are all the musicals he has written, or contributed to, that have legally filmed live for public distribution. Note that the dates refer to the year the production was filmed, not the year the musical was written.
Into the Woods
Merrily We Roll Along
Putting it Together
Sunday in the Park with George
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Happy birthday Sondheim. May your day be filled with color and light.
In my post on bootlegs a few weeks ago, I mentioned the National Theatre’s success in broadcasting theatre around the world through its program National Theatre Live (NT Live). This week, we're taking a closer look at the program.
NT Live began as an experiment to see how digital technology could allow a wider audience to enjoy National Theatre productions. The first broadcast took place in June 2009 with the live cinema screening of Phèdra starring Helen Mirren.
Over 60 productions later, NT Live has been broadcast on 2500 screens in 60 countries around the world, and viewed by over 5.5 million people. To date, NT Live has broadcast three musicals, FELA! (2011), The Threepenny Opera (2016), and Follies (2017).
The vast majority of broadcasts are from within the National Theatre in London, however beginning in 2013, NT Live has also broadcast select productions from the West End, including The Audience (coincidentally also starring Helen Mirren) and War Horse. In 2015, NT Live broadcast Of Mice and Men from the Longacre Theatre on Broadway.
Camera plots are specifically designed for each show, allowing the theatre and film director to ensure the most effective capture. Cameras are often placed right in the audience, and audience members are able to purchase tickets for filmed performances at a discounted rate.
Adjustments to various elements of each production are also made, including lighting and sound design, and wig and costume design.
If adjustments are being made to the production for the capture, is the film still a capture of a theatre production? In the 2009 National Theatre annual report, artistic director Nicholas Hytner noted, “…I am confident that we have pioneered a new genre: not quite live theatre, certainly not cinema, but an exciting approximation of the real thing whose potential reach is limitless.”
NT Live screenings are advertised as special events — a limited time chance to see a live capture of a National Theatre production. Cinemas located in the same timezone as London receive broadcasts in real time, while cinemas outside the timezone receive the same capture at a later time and/or date. Due to popular demand, “encore screenings” are also scheduled.
While some broadcasts are also available to schools for streaming in the UK through its On Demand program, most productions are not available to view or purchase after the cinema broadcasts. This is due to licensing, and contract negotiations.
At the time of its launch, NT Live was the only program for broadcasting live theatre in cinemas. As such, there has been significant research into its impact. In various reports, UK organization Nesta has found the following:
Nearly ten years after its launch, NT Live provides a great model for how filmed live theatre can co-exist with, and provide a new experience of, live theatre.