Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
This article discusses how well the live broadcast of Billy Elliot the Musical did at the box office, taking in £1.9 million. The broadcast was seen at over 500 cinemas across the UK, making it the largest cinema release of a live event.
In the UK, the live broadcasting of musicals in cinemas has occurred before. In 2010, there was a live broadcast of Les Miserables in honor of the show’s 25th anniversary. In 2011, there was a live broadcast of Phantom of the Opera shown in 250 UK cinemas. If you are interested, both of these productions are on YouTube.
After seeing this article, I became interested in this idea of broadcasting live musicals in US cinemas. Could it a thing? Is it already a thing?
We have already discussed live broadcasting of art events is something we have discussed in class. For example, the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts their performances in the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD series. Through this program, operas are seen in movie theaters and art centers across the world, opening the Metropolitan Opera House to a global community. Opera is of course NOT musical theater, but it was the first example of live broadcast to cinemas that I could think of.
Last year, NBC produced The Sound of Music Live, a TV special that was performed and televised live. While critics scoffed at Carrie Underwood’s acting ability, the special was seen by nearly 20 million people! Based on these great ratings NBC is producing another musical special at the end of this year. This time it is the musical Peter Pan and will star Girls star Allison Williams as Peter and Christopher Walken as Captain Hook. While it is still unknown whether this production will do as well as The Sound of Music, I’m sure that anything with Christopher Walken as a pirate will draw a crowd!
I am wondering if anyone knows of a musical that has been broadcast live in the US in movie theaters? I found this listing on playbill.com that provides all the plays/musicals that will be shown in movie theaters. Interestingly, most of the shows listed are either straight plays, being done in theatres in London, or both. Besides Billy Elliot (which the listing says will be broadcast in the US sometime in 2014), only two shows with music in them that will be shown in American movie theaters, including the musical From Here to Eternity and the opera The Merry Widow, starring Renee Flemming and Broadway star Kelli O’Hara.
Do you guys think broadcasting musicals live in US theaters could be as successful as Billy Elliot was in the UK? Or is television a better medium for the live broadcasted musical in America?