Ever come home from the theatre and wanted to go straight back and watch it again. Or want to see a production that is performed in a different city or country?
Now in a world with modern technology we have recordings of live stage productions so we can watch our favourite shows over and over or watch something new that has been produced a million miles away.
Live theatre is recorded for many reasons and these recordings are great because they allow the show to be accessed by a larger audience. Producers may choose to record the show to continue making money once the show has closed and to preserve the original production or the original cast. A key example of this was when the final performance of Rent was recorded and released with special appearances from the original cast. This preserved the original production and allowed fans all over the world to access the show for many years to come. These productions are often released on DVD or shown in theatres to be enjoyed by theatre fans around the world.
The New York Public Library Theatre on Film and Tape Archive has also recorded many productions for preservation, collaborating with theatre unions and artistic directors. Most are not accessible unless you are at the library and are viewing it for educational purposes but if you are joining a new production you can organise a time with the library to watch a tape.
We all cannot get to New York, so how do we watch our favourite shows from our living room or local cinema?
Recordings of your favourite theatre productions can be purchased from leading DVD retailers such as JB HI FI and online through Amazon. This includes Billy Elliot Live from the West End, Rent, Gypsy, Jesus Christ Superstar the Live Arena Tour, Shrek the Musical and so much more. These recording highlight the beauty of the original show and allow us to watch it in the comfort of our own home.
Alternatively, audiences can use the streaming service Broadway HD which launched in 2015 to subscribe or rent content at their leisure. The service allows users to rent the show they would like to watch or for $14.99 USD a month, users can subscribe and watch as much theatre as their hearts desire. Productions that can be accessed on Broadway HD include Memphis, Company, Kiss Me Kate, Oklahoma (with Hugh Jackman) and so much more.
In June 2016 Broadway HD held the first ever live stream where they broadcasted She Loves Me with Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi live from Studio 54. This production was streamed straight from their 8pm Broadway performance allowing theatregoers all around the world to watch the Tony winning production. The live recording can still be streamed today on the site along with Long Days Journey Into Night, another 2016 Tony winning production. Other productions soon to be released on Broadway HD include Tony nominated musical Falsettos and Tony winning play Indecent.
If you are after comedy Netflix has Nick Kroll and John Mulaney’s latest show direct from Broadway for your enjoyment, all you need is a subscription and you are good to go.
On special occasions some live theatre recordings are released in cinemas for fan events. Most recently in early 2017 the touring production of Newsies with the original principal cast members was filmed and released in cinemas all around the world including Australia. Previously the West End revival of Miss Saigon was released in Australian cinemas to celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary with Eva Noblezada and a special appearance from original cast members Johnathan Pryce, Lea Salonga and Simon Bowman. In the US, Falsettos staring Christian Borle, Andrew Rannells and Stephanie J. Block is soon to be released in cinemas but no word yet on Australian screenings.
What about Australian Theatre?
In 2010 the Australian National Theatre Live was born with Grant Dodwell, Raj Sidhu and Peter Hiscock working with theatre companies to distribute theatre content across Australia. In 2016 Limelight reported on the Australian National Theatre’s new cinema venture producing filmed Australian productions and screening them across Australia. This included Griffin Theatre Company’s Emerald City and Sydney Theatre Company’s The Wharf Revue. In the 2017 season we will see the return of Emerald City and The Wharf Revue celebrating 15 years as well as Rumpelstiltskin, Liberty Equality Fraternity and The Dapto Chaser. Details on screening dates and locations can be found on the Australian National Theatre Live website.
These recordings open productions to a larger audience and allow you to relive your favourite moments again and again. Check out a live recording today and bring a little bit of theatre into your home.