When you hear the word Broadway what comes to mind? Is it the thousands of streets named Broadway? Or is it the one region where theater magic happens at its “best”? The shining names, the big stars, the intricate sets with music to make you dance through the night. Going to Broadway is an experience, plain and simple. It is the Hollywood of Theater after all. Or is Hollywood the Broadway of the film industry? Either way, the name carries a significance, it assures you that at the very least, the production values will be worth the price of admission. Off-Broadway is almost as glamorous. This is where the less commercial work goes to shine, the houses aren’t as big in size, but most of them are as impressive as those big houses. For example, I watched Signature Theater’s production of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer prize winning play “Buried Child” and to say I felt the lights, the glamor, the feel of a big Broadway production is not far-fetched, everything was top-notch. The crazy thing is, I was watching it live… miles away. On my couch…. At my house… with my fiancee.
That’s right beautiful people, I was literally sitting down streaming the show live from the comfort of my own home thanks to the brilliant BroadwayHD.com. Bonnie Comley and Stewart Lane, the brains behind nine Tony award-winning shows, have unveiled this gorgeous idea upon us and it is a joy. Despite some minor technical issues, the whole experience was an eye-opener. I hate the idea of filmed theater, it barely ever works. It doesn’t translate well, and usually leaves you wanting more. Not with this, the angles were perfect, the editing was always smooth, and the focus managed to be where it needed it to be. After years of having to suffer through musicals on TV networks with terrible planning, I didn’t expect this. Usually on those shows, the cutting comes too fast, the angles are too close, and you end up missing half of the show. Maybe because this was a play and not a musical, but I can’t say enough how happy I was to be wrong. I am a fan of this service, and I think it is something that’s needed. Theater needs to reach more people, not everyone can come to see it, and they seem to have found out how. Despite some kinks, this would be a good investment.
About the show itself, what can I say, Scott Elliot directed an ensemble that was ready to take on anything this play could throw at them. Ed Harris is so good, he elevated the character in my view. I always loved Shepard’s plays and never really liked this one. That has changed. This production not only makes these characters real to me in the sense of caring, but it reinforces the good old saying: “Theater is made to be seen, not to be read.” While I do not always agree with that, I don’t have to, there are examples out there proving me wrong. And being proven wrong is my favorite thing.
I wanted to focus on the streaming service over the show. Chances are the show will be sold out all through its run, but how many people know about BroadwayHD? I think it is essential for the theater industry to embrace this service and help them perfect it, expand it, and then market it. There’s so many shows out there, productions, revivals that people miss because of money/time/location. Now they can see what theater is about. Now you can see, too. The play was amazing, but I see plays every day. A streaming service with well-filmed stage plays… Just go sign up.
Twisted Talk: What you watch live theater productions online? Do you find it hard to get to the theater? Discuss below!