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.
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