In the last year there have been two historic live stream events in the theatre world. Both out of NYC. The first was the Off-Broadway musical, Daddy Long Legs, back in December, which became the first ever Off-Broadway production to offer a live stream of a performance (with the bonus of being free of charge). Then on June 30th, the Broadway musical She Loves Me became the first Broadway show to offer a live stream, this time through Broadway HD (with a cost of $9.99 (American)). I was fortunate enough to catch both of these live streams and both experiences were amazing!
I didn’t really know anything about Daddy Long Legs before seeing the live stream. I was home with no plans and there was a live stream of an Off-Broadway musical, so I thought I might as well check it out! And I am so glad I did! I loved the show and the cast (Megan McGinnis and Adam Halpin, who are actually married in real life). Once the stream had ended, I just felt so happy. I got to experience a new musical live, right from my home. For this stream they were showing it a few different times for the benefit of different time zones and there was another showing right after the first finished. I ended up watching the first act again right then. (I was going to watch the whole thing again but it was getting late and I was tired so decided it was best to stop halfway through.) After seeing that live stream I bought the cast recording on iTunes and I even ended up buying the book of the same title on which the musical is based.
Similarly, I didn’t know much about She Loves Me going in to it, though, admittedly, I knew more about it than I did Daddy Long Legs. I had heard “Vanilla Ice Cream,” had seen some show clips and the Tony performance, and I learned from the Tonys that it was based on the same play on which You’ve Got Mail is based (also that You’ve Got Mail is based on a play). Of course I was also familiar with many of the cast members- and what a cast! Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Gavin Creel, Jane Krakowski, Andrew Kober and then the rest of the cast too. So many talented people in one show! Unlike Daddy Long Legs, the live stream of She Loves Me was not free, but I was more than willing to pay the $9.99 (American) for the opportunity to see the (first) live stream of a Broadway musical. It was worth every penny! And thankfully it worked out that I wasn’t working that night!
The She Loves Me stream was available to watch online for 10 days after the initial stream. It was originally only supposed to be 7 days but they extended its availability, which was alright by me! In that time (including the initial stream) I watched the show 3 times in full and also partially watched it a couple times. It was just so good! And again, it was one of those shows that left me feeling so happy! For me, that is honestly one of the best kinds of happy- the happiness that comes from falling in love with a new show, especially one that has a very feel-good way about it.
As someone who is not in NYC and can’t just go see these shows any time I’d like, I think these live streams, as well as other filmed production, offer a great opportunity both to give the shows more exposure and to give us, the distant Broadway fans, the chance to see these shows. After the Daddy Long Legs stream Producer Ken Davenport posted a link with the viewing statistics from the stream. After looking at that and from my own experiences, I don’t really see how you could look at these streams as anything but a good thing.
To be honest, I feel this way about pretty much all of the filmed productions that are available. I love the way they make theatre more accessible. There are the productions that are released on DVD (for example Rent, Billy Elliot, Into the Woods, etc.) and there are those shown in movie theatres (for example the National Theatre Live productions). I have gotten to see and experience a lot of shows that I would not have gotten to see otherwise because of these productions. I know and acknowledge that it’s not the same as seeing a show live, but for me at least, I still feel a similar excitement watching these productions to that which I feel when I’m at the theatre. In a lot of cases these filmed productions are the only chance that I’ll get to see the shows and for those that I have been fortunate enough to see live, if they are available on DVD or Broadway HD or anything like that, it gives me the chance to re-live those experiences. Now that they’ve started with these live streams, I think it really adds to the experience because you get the chance to watch the show live! The same time you are watching it on whatever screen or device you know it is happening right then onstage! I do hope it is something that will continue with other shows. That being said I know it can’t, and frankly shouldn’t, be something that every show does, but every so often, to offer a live Broadway or Off-Broadway show to the world, well, where’s the downside to that? I know in my case seeing these lives streams and filmed productions actually increases my desire to see the shows live in person. Unfortunately Daddy Long Legs and She Loves Me have both now closed (oh how I wish I could have seen both of them!), but if there is ever a production of either playing near me, because I had the opportunity to see and fall in love with them through their live streams, it is very likely that I would attend a performance if I could!
I do hope that the recordings of Daddy Long Legs and She Loves Me have a future. Broadway HD did indicate that She Loves Me would be back on the site after a time, so I really hope it will be (and soon!). There hasn’t been anything official said about the future of Daddy Long Legs but I’m still holding out hope that it will live on! A DVD release of both shows would be ideal! Until I’m given reason to believe otherwise I will continue to look forward to the day I can watch these recordings again (and, preferably, whenever I want)!