There are two new entries to take a look at in the database - Better Late (1946) and Of a Lifetime (2021). The titles were filmed 75 years apart and represent very different possibilities of bringing live musicals to the screen. And just for fun, despite being filmed in the UK and US respectively, both musicals have Aussie connections much like yours truly who is Australian born!
Better Late was a musical revue starring Beatrice Lillie, and it was the first musical to be broadcast live by the BBC from the West End following WWII. The cast also included Aussie actor Murray Matheson who became a dear friend of Lillie's. A fun connection for me, when I was accepted to study at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama I was awarded the Beatrice Lillie Scholarship! I wonder what Ms. Lillie and Mr. Murray would think of this Aussie, who trained in London and now lives in the US, would think of their revue being studied in this way over three-quarters of century later?!
Of a Lifetime is a new electro-rock sci-fi musical by Aussie writer and composer James C.K. Jefferies. The musical was filmed during its off-Broadway run in 2021, and the film was an official selection of the 2022 International New York Film Festival where it received a Merit Award. It's available to stream online.
Visit the database to learn more!
In the month of March, Filmed Live Musicals is celebrating Stephen Sondheim! On the podcast, we have a three-part series with musical theatre historian Margaret Hall. Part 1 (Feb 28) is an overview of filmed live Sondheim musicals, part 2 (March 14) will be a deep dive into Pacific Overtures, and part 3 is a deep dive into the 2011 New York Philharmonic production of Company, the musical that inspired this very website!
To accompany this week's episode on filmed live Sondheim musicals, here’s a list of where you can watch those musicals!
This post contains affiliate links, and I may earn income from qualifying purchases made through these links.
Into the Woods
Merrily We Roll Along
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Putting it Together
Sunday in the Park with George
In 2015 Image Entertainment released the Stephen Sondheim Collection, a 6-disc DVD collection of Sondheim’s work including Into the Woods (1990), Company (2011), Sunday in the Park with George (1986), Follies in Concert (1985), Sweeney Todd (2001), and Sondheim: The Birthday (2010), though it appears to currently be out of print.
You can learn more about all of the above musicals in the Filmed Live Musicals database. There are more to be added, including the 1994 National Theatre and 1995 Barcelona productions of Sweeney Todd. Know of other filmed live Sondheim recordings? Send us an email! Remember, to be included in the database, a musical must have been legally filmed in front of a live audience, and made available to the general public.
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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This week on the podcast host Luisa Lyons chats with Eliza Jackson, an Australian producer based in the UK whom The Stage recently listed as one of the Top 100 Theatre Makers of 2020.
Topics including making the switch from acting to producing, the joys and challenges of producing virtual theatre content during the pandemic, paying artists during lockdown, the future of streaming, what it means to make theatre during this time, and Lambert Jackson Productions streams of The Last Five Years, Songs for A New World, [title of show], and the upcoming I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.
Australian born Eliza Jackson trained in Musical Theatre at the prestigious NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art) in Sydney. She moved to London in 2012 and since then, has worked in the theatre industry both on and off stage.
In 2018, Lambert Jackson Productions was born and their first project was to take Eliza’s one-woman show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The show, The Voice Behind the Stars received 5-star reviews across the board and was then toured around Australia with much success. On her return, she took on the role of Creative Director of Lambert Jackson full time.
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change will stream at select times between January 28-30, 2021. More info and tickets available from the London Coliseum.
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"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.
Can’t wait for Hamilton on July 3? Catch Lin-Manuel’s one-act musical 21 Chump Street. Want a moving musical to commemorate Memorial Day? Try out the Millennium Wales Centre production of Only the Brave. Need something to occupy the kids? Try Chichester Theatre Festival’s production of The Midnight Gang. If you’re feeling literary, you can catch Wasted, a rock musical about the Brontë family, or Emma Rice’s joyous Wise Children. Science more your thing? You can watch Tangram Theatre’s The Element in the Room about Marie Curie. Or perhaps you'd like to celebrate some historic women? Take a look at the new song cycle Passion Project.
Here is a list of over 30 musicals you can currently watch online (legally!) for free! There truly is a musical for everyone!
Musicals are sorted below by Broadway & West End Composers, off-Broadway & off-West End Beyond London & New York, Musicals in Development/Concert Readings, & Family Friendly.
If you’re able, please consider making a donation to the theatre or company making their content available. As reported by producer Sonia Freedman this week, up to 70% of theatres in the UK risk permanent closure by the end of the year, and things are also looking grim in the US.
Broadway and West End Composers
Off-Broadway and Off-West-End
Beyond London and New York
Musicals in Development/Concert Readings
Still want MORE musicals?
Use the Filmed Live Musicals database to search for musicals to watch online!
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There are so many musicals streaming online right now it's hard to keep up!
Today alone, the 8th of May, there are THREE filmed live musicals being made available for a limited time for free (not to mention all the musicals already available online)!
If you are so able, please consider making a donation to the institutions providing these streams, especially the independent theatres. Times are tough for everyone right now, and the theatre industry is facing an incredibly difficult time. Theatres rely on ticket sales to bring in income, and with the shutdown, many institutions are facing serious economic difficulty. If we can, let's give back to the places that give us so much joy.
Pieces of String
A new British musical set simultaneously in 1940 and the present day exploring LGBT themes, and the impact of secrets on generations. Free to watch from 10am - 11.59pm (GMT) on May 8 only at Mercury Theatre Colchester. If you miss the free screening, it's also available for a small fee from Digital Theatre.
The King and I
Bartlett Sher's gorgeous Lincoln Center revival starring Kelli O'Hara and Ken Watanabe filmed live during its West End run at the London Palladium. Free watch party on May 8 at 8pm (EST) hosted BroadwayHD and Playbill. Only available in North America. Also available through a BroadwayHD subscription.
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn's musical based on the book by P.G. Wodehouse. Will be available to stream for free from 2pm on May 8 for 48 hours on YouTube.
Royal Court Livestream
Missing being inside an actual theatre? This one is not a musical, but London's Royal Court theatre is live-streaming from within the empty auditorium on May 8th with Caretaker, a "durational installation" by Hester Chillingworth. 7.30pm GMT. Visit Royal Court for more info.
Still want MORE musicals?! You can visit the Filmed Live Musicals database and search for musicals to watch online! There are currently 75 musicals listed as available online, with more being added each week.
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.
The following interview was originally published in the July edition of the Filmed Live Musicals Patron newsletter. When you become a patron, you will be supporting the running of this site, and original research into the ever growing field of filmed live musicals. Previous newsletters include content on upcoming screenings, new movie technology, and 360º captures. Star Patrons also gain access to filmed live musical reviews. To gain access to Patreon-only content, become a Patron today!
British actor and writer Carrie Sutton has performed in many West End musicals including Sister Act: The Musical, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Little Women, Cabaret, Imagine This, and Kiss Me, Kate. She also worked as a dresser on the recent West End musical The Wind in the Willows. You can catch Carrie performing as Laurey in Oklahoma! later this month at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage.
Imagine This, Kiss Me, Kate, and The Wind in the Willows were all filmed live. I recently chatted with Carrie about her experiences working on these filmed live musicals.
What difference is there between acting for camera and acting on stage? How does that translate when you’re filming a live stage show?
You’re still giving a theatrical performance, but there is an awareness of the camera. It’s a different scale. I aimed for the middle of the audience rather than the back, and in close-up moments, I tried to be still. The audience is recorded too, and that energy translates on camera.
For “Kiss Me, Kate” and “The Wind in the Willows,” we did pick-ups after the performance. For example, a mic went down during the show, so afterwards we re-recorded some scenes out of sequence.
You knew Kiss Me, Kate was going to be filmed from the outset. Did you rehearse for the stage or for the camera?
We rehearsed it as a piece of theatre, and it was filmed as a piece of theatre. In fact, John Wilson [the conductor], told us to “chip your teeth on the words” because Royal Albert Hall is so big. You really have to work hard to make yourself understood in that space. So we definitely worked for the live performance of it.
We had rehearsals at the Town Hall in Belsize Park, and then the camera guys would come in and see the work. They would check angles and close-ups, and compare it to marked-up scripts. There is a lot of back and forth between the director, the DP [director pf photography], and the choreographer. It’s very much a group effort.
"Kiss Me, Kate" aired during prime time on Christmas Day. That was so exciting for me. A real bucket list item.
Stage musicals are sometimes altered when the cameras come in. What aspects of Imagine This were changed for the filming?
Some slight blocking changes were made to accommodate the cameras, but from the actors’ perspective very little was changed.
What was it like working as a dresser on “Wind in the Willows”?
It was filmed over three days. We had a dress rehearsal for close-ups, and where they got pick-up footage for when things go wrong in live filming, like a child screaming in the audience, or costume failure. The costumes had to be immaculate — it has to be perfect for film. What passes on a regular show won’t pass on a recording. Socks have to be level, ties have to be straight. There is extra attention to detail on quick changes because all the clothes use velcro, ties are stuck on with velcro, shirts do up with velcro, it has to be exact or it doesn’t look right.
How do contract negotiations work for filmed live musicals?
All the negotiations are done through the producer. For “Imagine This” we were given a fee for filming, or perhaps we waived it, and were bought out for the broadcasts. “Kiss Me, Kate” was all done prior and we just signed a standard BBC contract. If you had a step out, you received extra.
You get reimbursed for royalties. It’s all worked out with the cast and crew and everyone is allocated points based on how much you work during the rehearsals and during the show. Like in “The Wizard of Oz,” we ended up distributing points based on word count. The female ensemble had a lot more to do in that show, so we were given more points.
EPKs [Electronic Press Kit] are included in new contracts. We spend around a day in the theatre shooting scenes for promotional copy. The scenes are different from what’s in the show, we learn new blocking that works better for the camera, like a dance will be more spaced out, or the angles will be slightly different. “The Wizard of Oz” were on Children in Need. We did a montage specifically for that show. It was covered in the EPK as “reasonable promotion.”
What do you think of filmed live musicals or filmed live theatre in general?
It’s both theatre and film. It’s a record. It is important to have records of shows. People who would otherwise never be recorded are able to have a record of their work, especially ensemble members. It creates revenue for the production. It brings art back to the people. It makes the West End accessible to people who are far away.
Do you have a favorite filmed live theatre event?
The entire Kenneth Branagh season. I saw it filmed live, and I watched the films. I loved the Royal Ballet’s “Alice in Wonderland.” I felt really involved in the production, even though I was watching it in the cinema. Also the RSC’s “Henry” plays.
Why are filmed live musicals important?
The “Imagine This” DVD potentially gives that show a future life. It honors the work of the all the people that create the show, all the creatives, and the cast. The level of work that went into the show is incredible. Everything was handmade for the production, and every moment of work is captured. It was just a flash in the pan, but all the work, and commitment, and artistry, it isn’t lost.
Learn more about Carrie at www.carriesutton.com and http://www.londonvoiceover.com/carrie-sutton/.
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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!