I am absolutely smitten this morning. Smitten with technology and live performance converging into new ways of bringing theater into the comfort and convenience of your own home.
Last night (depending on where you live), the off-Broadway show ‘Daddy Long Legs’ streamed a live performance straight from the Davenport Theater in New York City. The show stars real life (and adorable) husband and wife Megan McGinnis and Adam Halpin who are just damn delightful.
As a New Yorker living on the west coast, it’s difficult for me to make it back to see shows. Although I did see this wonderful performance just a month and a half ago on my whirlwind ‘World Series Halloween Marathon’ weekend, there are many shows I wanted to see that were unaffordable, sold out or did not have time for, such as ‘Something Rotten’, ‘An American in Paris’ and ‘Hamilton’ (cough…cough..sold out until the sun becomes extinct).
Sadly, as with the case of 2006’s ‘Sweeney Todd’, a superb show I allowed to pass me by, so many great performances close and thousands of hopefuls with no access to New York Public Library’s Lincoln Center Branch’s Broadway video archives, never get to see them. Instead, they are tempted to view them on bootlegs via YouTube, where one feels dirty watching an illegal cut, shot through someone’s coat buttonhole. (I imagine the hateful glare of Patti LuPone on my shoulder as she watches me watch her duet with Michael Cerveris on “A Little Priest”, recorded on a jiggly Flip camera one hundred feet from stage.)
Yes, a cast recording is very nice, but how great would it be to see a staged show recorded for posterity? They did it with Sondheim. They did it with ‘Elaine Stritch Live at Liberty’. The National Theater in London has been doing NTLive for a while now, where Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch was just recently seen in select movie theaters. Network television is redefining the live staged experience by broadcasting ‘Sound of Music’ and ‘The Wiz’ live, the ‘Grease’ to follow on Fox.
But for actual off/on Broadway shows – think of the coverage. Think of the continuous revenue flow that will continue to contribute to a show’s ledger long after it has closed. Think of how amazing it would be to see ‘Fun Home’ or ‘An American in Paris’ in your pajamas when you are never going to get to New York in that season?
Some purists scoff at the idea of digitally streamed Broadway. Being in a theater and feeling the energy come off the stage as you join hundreds of other people watching the same story unfold before you is a magical experience. The smell of the plush seats, the greasepaint, the velvet ropes and hushed or crackling energy you feel from actors breathing the same air.
But let’s face it, for those who can’t afford this experience, seeing in the comfort of your own home for a nominal fee is better than not seeing it at all.
Ken Davenport, Producer of ‘Daddy Long Legs’ and owner of The Davenport Theater, where the show lives, is a staunch supporter of bringing live Broadway to the 21st Century by use of streaming technology. He facilitated, along with BroadwayHD, the debut of last night’s streaming of ‘Daddy Long Leg’, and it was indeed a major breakthrough, a step in the right digital direction. Twitter was alive with “Daddy”. The hastag #DaddyLongLegsLive was trending nationally on Twitter and commentary, weighing both pros and cons, were bandied about on the internet. Imagine an SVOD platform to house these live shows…
Thanks to BroadwayHD, a new Netflix type company created by Broadway producers Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, live streaming Broadway is slowly becoming real and lucrative. The fledgling company has already acquired 100 titles to stream on their SVOD platform. Not all titles are new nor particularly desirable. Most are already available on DVD and other online sources, but it’s a solid start.Remember iTunes and Netflix started out with limited supply and built their library over time.
Once Broadway understands the need for digital streaming, there will be more fresh material to subscribe to, making this venture a successful one to Broadway nerds out there.
Read more about digital Broadway:
Check out ‘Daddy Long Legs’ – http://www.daddylonglegsmusical.com/watch/
Explore BroadwayHD — https://www.broadwayhd.com/