Ep 59 - RIDE: A New Musical
Host Luisa Lyons chats with Freya Catrin Smith and Jack Williams, composers of RIDE: A New Musical which was filmed live during its run at the Charing Cross Theatre in 2022 and is now available to stream on demand.
Hear about the show’s journey from workshop to fully staged production, how professionally filming the workshop helped in re-writes, the casting process, and what’s next for the two-hander musical!
Freya Smith and Jack Williams are award-winning composers and lyricists, and founders of Bottle Cap Theatre. Their work focuses on telling female led stories and includes musicals RIDE (The Garrick, 2021) and THE LIMIT (VAULT Festival 2019). They are the joint winners of Aria Entertainment and ALP's Chamber Musical commission (2021).
Their work has been performed at venues including: The Garrick, The Other Palace, The Roundhouse and The Leicester Square Theatre, and has been developed with drama schools including Central School of Speech and Drama and ArtsEd.
In 2021 Freya received a Michael Grandage Futures Bursary and took up a writing residency at Norwich Theatre Royal.
Watch RIDE: A New Musical on Broadway on Demand.
Listen to Freya and Jack’s first interview on the Filmed Live Musicals podcast.
Learn about the history RIDE: A New Musical in the database
Bottle Cap Theatre: www.bottlecaptheatre.com
Bottle Cap Theatre on Twitter
Freya Catrin Smith on Twitter
Jack Williams on Twitter
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How very! There are two new entries in the database - Heathers: The Musical filmed live at The Other Palace in May this year, and Velvet Determination filmed live at the Hudson Guild Theatre in early 2020.
Heathers is a dark musical comedy set at Westerberg High School where cliques rule. Veronica Sawyer is a reluctant member of the popular girl clique, the Heathers. With the help of newcomer J.D., Veronica sets to turn popularity on its head, and murder and mayhem ensue.
The London debut of the show has proved so popular it has had two West End runs (one pre, and one post the theatre shutdown), and is now in its extended second run in the off West End theatre The Other Palace.
Learn more about Heathers: www.filmedlivemusicals.com/heathers.
Velvet Determination is an autobiographical one woman show by actor, singer, and classical pianist Cynthia Shaw. In the show, Cynthia shares her journey from a tiny Colorado town to a prestigious music school in NYC, and all the characters who help, or hinder, along the way.
You can also catch Cynthia talking about the history of the show on the Filmed Live Musicals podcast ! Learn more at www.filmedlivemusicals.com/velvet-determination.
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Scarce heard amid the guns
As elemental as song and dance are to human nature, so to is the quest for power, control of resources, and control over one another. Today marks 104 years since the armistice between the Allied Forces and Germany after four bloody years of war was declared. Now known as Remembrance Day, or Veterans Day in the US, it is a day to reflect upon the sacrifice of war, and honor the men and women who have served their countries through the military.
Sadly, war continues to be an ever-present reality for many people in the world. I had the honor of interviewing Alex Borovenskiy, the founder and executive director of the Ukrainian ProEnglish Theatre and Drama School in Kyiv. Literally amidst falling bombs, power cuts, and continued Russian aggression, Alex and his colleagues are creating new work that speaks to the times and broadcasting it to the world beyond the Ukraine’s borders. The 2022 PRO.ACT Festival, with the theme “Unbreakable,” is available to stream for free on Scenesaver. The episode will be available next week.
Other podcast episodes looking at musicals about war include Allegiance with composer and producer Jay Kuo going behind the scenes of the musical about the incarceration of Japanese-American citizens on American soil during WWII, Pieces of String with composer Gus Gowland talking about his musical inspired by the untold stories of gay men in the military, and Pacific Overtures with theatre historian Margaret Hall delving into the history of Sondheim’s musical about the forcible opening of Japan to the West.
Below is a list of stage musicals you can watch from home which tell the stories of war across history, and from across the world.
Allegiance is loosely based on the events of actor George Takei’s life. During World War II, Takei and his family, along with 120,000 Japanese-American citizens were incarcerated in camps within the United States. Filmed live on Broadway in 2016, and released in cinemas in December of that year. It briefly held the record as Fathom Events’ highest grossing Broadway film. Click here for streaming options.
An American in Paris
Using the music of George and Ira Gerswhin, this romanticized musical tells the story of an American GI who falls in love with a Parisian woman in the days following the end of WWII. Adapted from the MGM movie of the same name, the stage production was filmed live in the West End in 2017. Click here for streaming options.
Filmed live on Broadway in 2017, this swing musical tells the story of a musician who returns from fighting in Europe during WWII, traumatized but with the desire to re-build his life following the death of his best friend. Although the musical was the first theatrical production to be certified by Get Your 6 for its authentic portrayal of the military, Bandstand was criticized for its lack of characters or actors of color. Released in cinemas in 2018, the musical was briefly available to stream on Playbill and Broadway on Demand earlier this year. Click here for streaming options.
From Here to Eternity
British musical From Here to Eternity is based on James Jones’ novel of the same name. With music by Stuart Brayson, lyrics by Sir Tim Rice, and a book by Bill Oakes, the musical depicts the affairs of US soldiers stationed in Hawaii in the lead-up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was filmed live during its West End run in 2014. Click here for streaming options.
A much lauded hip hop musical following the trials and tribulations of American founding father Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton depicts battles from the Revolutionary War, along with the battles of the cabinet. Click here for streaming options.
A fictionalized re-telling of true events, Imagine This is set in the Warsaw Jewish ghetto during the Holocaust. With departure to a camp imminent, a local theatre troupe are encouraged by their director to stage a musical about Masada (where a group of 960 Jewish refugees in the year 70 attempted to evade Roman soldiers before committing mass suicide). The musical had a short-lived run on the West End in 2008 where it was filmed live. Now available on DVD. Click here for purchasing options.
Based on Victor Hugo’s historical novel of the same name, Les Miserables is not set during the French Revolution, during the uprisings that took place a few decades later. Although the stories and characters in Les Mis are fiction, they are drawn from Hugo’s close observations of Paris life. The musical has to date been filmed live three times, the 10th anniversary concert, 25th anniversary concert, and, most recently, last year’s West End staged concert. Click on each title for streaming options.
Love at Times
A two-act play with music and movement filmed at the ProEnglish Theatre in Kyiv during the Russian invasion in 2022. Part 1 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” sees two gay soldiers from the Territorial Defense of Kyiv discussing their romantic relationship. In part 2, “Katie and Frank,” the title couple argues over the old adage “you never listen to me.” Available for free with registration on Scenesaver. The ProEnglish Theatre’s one-woman play The Book of Sirens, a contemporary adaptation of The Book Thief set in Kyiv, is also worth a watch.
A modernized re-telling of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, Miss Saigon is set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon. The musical tells the ill-fated love story of Kim, a young woman in Saigon, and an American G.I., Chris. The 25th anniversary gala production was filmed live in the West End in 2016. Click here for streaming options.
Only the Brave
Based on true stories, this British musical follows Captain John Howard and Lieutenant Denholm Brotheridge, and their wives Joy and Maggie, as the soldiers prepare for the D-Day landings. The 2016 production at the Wales Millennium Centre featured a real-life vet playing the role of John Howard Senior. Only the Brave was filmed live for archival purposes in 2016. Click here for streaming options.
Self-described by composer Stephen Sondheim as “the most bizarre and unusual musical ever to be seen in a commercial setting,” Pacific Overtures is a concept musical set around Commodore Perry’s first visit to Japan in 1853. It was filmed live during its original Broadway run for distribution on Japanese television. Click here for streaming options.
Pieces of String
Set in 1940 and the present day, British musical Pieces of String was inspired by a BBC documentary that briefly mentioned gay relationships in the armed forces during World War II, and modern day stories of gay men being unable to donate blood. Composer Gus Gowland sought to widen the scope for the way gay male characters are portrayed in musical theatre (a topic which he later explored in his PhD dissertation), and attempted to ensure women were also equally represented in the musical. The musical was filmed live during its run at Mercury Theatre Colchester in 2018. Click here for streaming options.
Based on the short story collection Tales of the South Pacific, the now classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was ground breaking musical for its exploration of racism, war, and interracial relationships. There are currently two filmed live productions of South Pacific in the database - the 2010 Lincoln Center revival and the 2005 Carnegie Hall concert starring Reba McIntyre and Brian Stokes Mitchell. The latter is available on DVD. Click here for purchasing options.
A Tale of Two Cities
Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, A Tale of Two Cities is based on Charles Dickens’ novel of the same name. The musical had a brief run on Broadway in 2008, and has received concert stagings in London, Paris, and Brighton. The concert performances were compiled into a special which was broadcast on PBS and is now available on DVD (this is an affiliate link and as an associate I may earn income from qualifying purchases).
Tyneham: No Small Sacrifice
This British musical tells the story of the residents of Tyneham, who were told to leave their homes in 1942 as the bequest of the British military. Although the residents were promised their homes would be returned, Tyneham remains military property to this day. Performed by amateur theatre company Generations Apart in 2013, the musical is currently available to view on YouTube.
V for Victory
This still-in-development British musical explores the lives of a group of friends in the resistance against the German occupation of Jersey during World War II. A concert version was performed at the Stockwell Playhouse in 2018 and was filmed live. Click here for streaming options.
Waiting for the Ship to Sail
Produced by Chickenshed in the UK, this timely musical is an artistic response to the urgent and pressing questions of global migration, and investigates the concepts of national and personal identity. It is currently available on YouTube.
The off-Broadway musical YANK! tells the story of soldiers falling in love, and depicts the gay scene 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 54 hosted a 10th anniversary concert in early 2020, and the video is currently available on YouTube.
How will you be honoring those whose lives have been lost in war, and those who have devoted their lives to service today?
Host Luisa Lyons chats with writer, composer, and lyricist Gus Gowland about his award winning musical Pieces of String, which is concurrently set between WWII and the present day, and explores the themes of the lives of gay men. Other topics include the 10th anniversary concert of Les Mis, why we need the arts in schools, and Gus’s PhD thesis about the representation of gay men in musical theatre.
Gus is an award-winning writer/composer. His first musical Pieces of String was The Stage’s Best Regional Musical of the year and was nominated for the UK Theatre Best Musical Production award. Gus won The Stage Debut Award for Best Composer/Lyricist, and was nominated for the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain Award for Best Musical Theatre Bookwriting. Other work includes Subway, an audio short musical and In Motion, an EP of original songs written with Craig Mather. Learn more at www.gusgowland.com and follow Gus on Twitter.
Learn more about Pieces of String, including where to stream it on demand, in the database!
Filmed Live Musicals is the most comprehensive online searchable database for musicals that have been filmed live on stage. Visit www.filmedlivemusicals.com to learn more. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. For early access to site content, and exclusive access to the streaming calendar, become a Filmed Live Musicals Patreon. For as little as $3US a month (if you’re outside the US, you can pledge in your local currency), you’ll be ensuring the continuation of the site and spreading the love of musical theatre!
Filmed Live Musicals is created by Luisa Lyons. Luisa is an Australian actor, writer, and musician. She holds a Masters in Music Theatre from London's Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and now lives, works, and plays in New York. Learn more at www.luisalyons.com or follow on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
The Filmed Live Musicals podcast is available on all leading podcast apps, at Filmed Live Musicals, on YouTube and Broadway on Demand.
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Ep 31: Bottle Cap Theatre
Host Luisa Lyons chats with Freya Catrin Smith and Jack Williams, founders of new musical theatre company Bottle Cap Theatre, and creators of recently streamed musicals The Limit, about mathematician Sophie Germain, and RIDE, about Annie Londonderry, the first woman to ride around the world on a bicycle.
Topics include how song cycles and the Edinburgh Fringe inspired Freya and Jack to start writing musical theatre, deadlines and creativity, the development of The Limit, and RIDE, how the pair feel about filming their work, and more!
Freya Catrin Smith and Jack Williams are award-winning composers and lyricists, and founders of Bottle Cap Theatre. Their work focuses on telling female led stories and includes musicals RIDE (The Garrick, 2021) and THE LIMIT (VAULT Festival 2019). They are the joint winners of Aria Entertainment and ALP's Chamber Musical commission (2021).
Their work has been performed at venues including: The Garrick, The Other Palace, The Roundhouse and The Leicester Square Theatre, and has been developed with drama schools including the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and ArtsEd.
In 2021 Freya received a Michael Grandage Futures Bursary and took up a writing residency at Norwich Theatre Royal.
Learn more at www.bottlecaptheatre.com, follow on Twitter, and at Freya Catrin Smith, and Jack Williams.
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Ep 24 with Benjamin Scheuer
On episode 24 of the Filmed Live Musicals podcast, host Luisa Lyons chats with songwriter and performer Benjamin Scheuer.
We chat about the influence of Frank Loesser, how Benjamin came to write his first show (which Prince William ushered), the interplay of different performance and artistic mediums, being diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkins lymphoma at age 28 and our shared journey of cancer treatment and bone marrow biopsies, how The Lion served as a personal ad, the devastating story of one of Benjamin's most memorable performances whilst on tour, and exclusive news about what's next for The Lion!
Benjamin Scheuer wrote and performed THE LION (Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Solo Performance; Off-West End Award, Best New Musical). Scheuer and Carlos Acosta made Empty Stage, the “magical…best dance film of the year” (The Guardian). Scheuer’s music-videos have won Annecy Film Festival’s Best Commissioned Film, and the British Animation Awards’ Best Music Video (twice.) Author of two songs-turned-into-children’s books: Hundred Feet Tall and Hibernate With Me. Scheuer is writing a musical about Peter Roget, creator of Roget’s Thesaurus. A Kleban Award winner, “Scheuer plays guitar as if he invented the instrument (LA Times) and his songwriting “gets to the heart of the matter” (NY Times).
The Lion is available to stream on demand on BroadwayHD.
Learn more at www.benjaminscheuer.com and follow Benjamin on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and SoundCloud.
Check out Benjamin's latest short films:
"Empty Stage" with the Birmingham Royal Ballet and Carlos Acosta
"Empty Stage" with Robbie Fairchild.
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Filmed musicals bring joy to people around the world, create connections between theatre lovers, and shows what can be possible in bringing theatre to the screen. Filmed Live Musicals creates a centralized place to search for information on nearly 200 stage musicals (and growing!) that have been legally filmed and made publicly available. The Filmed Live Musicals podcast features interviews with actors, producers, and creatives about the joys and challenges of filming live theatre.
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