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Broadway Shows - Why not archive on DVD? (MERGED THREAD)


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#1 of 58 OFFLINE   John Berggren

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Posted March 26 2002 - 08:17 AM

I am a fan of all audio and visual media. I love movies, but I also love a good concert, and I'm a huge fan of NYC theater. I try to make a trek up to the city once a year to catch a couple of shows. My last three trips included the musical AIDA.



Watching AIDA with the original cast (in various stages of devolution from the night before opening until the night Heather Headley left) I wished that Disney Theatrical had the foresight to preserve the original cast on film - a high def recording of a live performance, either with an audience or without. Somehow I doubt that this was done.



With Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick having just left the Producers I also wish the producers of the Producers had the instinct to do the same.



I know that the general feeling is that a film version, or a video production of a show will cut into it's weekly profits on stage, but would it not make sense to take one of the following paths:



Record the show on opening night, or a particularly high calibur night, and create a DVD master, then



1) Store the DVD master until which time as the show closes on Broadway. It may take 18 years, but it will happen for every show eventually.



2) Sell the DVD only at the performance until which time as the show closes, then release a new edition to the general public.



It's a shame that great performances have essentially be lost forever. I do beleive wholeheartedly in live theater, and that a recorder representation of the same can never replace that experience, but for all of that hard work and dedication a cast and crew puts into a production, for it to only exist in memory is tragic.



I don't only refer to the Broadway musicals either. I think on Mary Louise Parker in Proof (a role she won't be offerred in the film version because she's "too old") or Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly in True West (they swapped roles every other night, which would have made for a nice double feature) and wish there were a record. Also Copenhagen and Patrick Stewart's one man A Christmas Carol have not been so preserved.



Does anyone else feel that there is a place for live theater on DVD that has not been adequately serviced (or from the studio perspective - mined)?
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#2 of 58 OFFLINE   Billy Fogerty

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Posted March 26 2002 - 08:20 AM

That would be a great idea. Saw 42nd Street last month. Outstanding musical. These would be great on dvd.

#3 of 58 OFFLINE   Eric Paddon

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Posted March 26 2002 - 09:25 AM

Actually since the mid-1980s it has been standard procedure for all Broadway shows to be videotaped for archival reference purposes and these videotapes are kept in the library at Lincoln Center. This program was started precisely because of the point that too many great performances were being lost to the ages. However this collection is only available to scholars doing research and can be viewed only at Lincoln Center. There has never been any thought given to releasing these commercially (except for the random program that has aired on PBS, such as the original cast production of Stephen Sondheim's "Into The Woods" from 1987) for a simple reason. If people could buy an actual tape or DVD of a stage production then the reason to ever perform these plays or musicals again on the stage would plummet drastically as people would say, "Why go to the theater when I can watch it at home?" This is one reason why even revivals of shows that were made into movies back in the 50s and 60s are so often (and foolishly I think) "reinvented" so as to provide a reason for a modern audience to come out. It is so rare that any film version in the past of a Broadway play or musical successfully and completely duplicated what was presented on stage in terms of book, score etc. (let alone the cast) and at the risk of revisiting a sore subject, this is why the recent "1776" thread provoked so much ire on my part and others, because the upcoming changes being made for DVD are ruining the opportunity to have that total and complete document of what was done on stage that the LD presented.

#4 of 58 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted March 26 2002 - 10:02 AM

There are many people that will never be able to experience a live Broadway performance due to financial or geographic constraints. It would be nice if there were videos available to the masses, rather than have this experience available only to the elite upper crust.
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#5 of 58 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted March 26 2002 - 10:31 AM

Malcolm, I can assure you that the audiences for New York productions, both on- and off-Broadway, are in no way composed of an "elite upper crust". There may be geographical limitations on theater attendance, but there aren't any social ones. And except for a handful of big musicals, good tickets can still be had at reasonable prices. I suppose video would be better than nothing, but the sad truth is that there's no way to replicate the experience of a live performance on any recorded medium. Live performance is unique -- literally. I have the DVD of Into the Woods that Eric mentioned, but I also saw the production from which it was taken. Both are wonderful, but the experiences are completely different. M.
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#6 of 58 OFFLINE   PatrickL

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Posted March 26 2002 - 10:48 AM

Quote:
Malcolm, I can assure you that the audiences for New York productions, both on- and off-Broadway, are in no way composed of an "elite upper crust".
As a constant New York theatre-goer, I'll second that. I see students, teenagers, and middle-class families at the theatre all the time. As for geography, that fact that many shows tour the country is part of why the idea of offering live shows for sale is a bit risky. Many of these properties enjoy a life on the road after they close on Broadway, and anything that may take a bite out of those profits is understandably looked upon as a risk.

#7 of 58 OFFLINE   John Berggren

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Posted March 26 2002 - 11:10 AM

I certainly understand the concern about cutting into profits during the first run, during the tour, and during revivals, but at least for me, I look at them as different beasts. I may own a show that I love, but I'd still go, and encourage others to go see it live.



The truth of the matter is that remembering the experience isn't enough for me. That's why I own DVDs of movies I paid to see in the theater (Again, theatrical features still make money even though we know all films will come to DVD). Seeing a show recorded is not the same as seeing it live. Additionally seeing a show in Raleigh is not the same as seeing the same show in NYC. Furthermore, seeing a show in NYC is not the same as seeing it with it's original cast in NYC (for anyone who has seen Les Mis in the last 2 years at the Imperial you must know what I mean here).



I just want to be able to have the original performance by the original performers. Hollywood reproductions of broadway shows don't cut it either... Audrey Hepburn, though lovely, was no replacement for Julie Andrews (who I was too young to see) and certainly Antonio Banderas (keeping my lunch down here) is no Michael Crawford. Even if they perfectly maintained the cast they would "go real". Assuming that Disney wanted to make AIDA into a film; even if they had Heather, Adam, and Renee, they likely would fire the set and lighting designer and get something more movie friendly, losing a beautiful aspect of the production.



I'm glad to hear that there is an archive at the Lincoln center of shows. I wonder how deep it goes. Is Hedwig there? Or is it just million dollar musicals? It's unfortunate that Joe Average doesn't have access to this repository. We have a rich culture for live performance, and I think a record of it would be a good thing.



Much like television and video didn't kill the movies (which themselves were supposed to bring an end to live theater) I don't think that home video can kill the theater.



However, it could very well be that others are not like me, and given the choice they would stay home and wait for the DVD rather than going to New York, seeing the show, then getting the DVD as well.
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#8 of 58 OFFLINE   Lisel

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Posted March 26 2002 - 11:31 AM

I like Broadway musicals (though I haven't been to many), the whole theater-going experience -- including standing on the TKTS line in winter. That can't be duplicated with a DVD, but I've still wished before that I did have those shows on disc to watch again. We got Cats, I think, but I'd want Guys and Dolls, Phantom, Annie Get Your Gun, Rent and others.

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#9 of 58 OFFLINE   Eric Paddon

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Posted March 26 2002 - 11:36 AM

If it's any consolation I can tell you that many collectors do trade full audio recordings of Broadway shows that were usually taped on recorders smuggled into the theater and many classic performances of the more distant past (pre-1980) do exist in that limited format only. And there are also the many excerpts of then-current Broadway shows that were performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in the 50s and 60s that often give us just a bit more than the original cast albums do (many cast albums suffer because of the aversion to using stage dialogue in the recordings in the interest of creating supposedly "purer" musical listening. "My Fair Lady" and "Camelot" suffer the worst because of this).

#10 of 58 OFFLINE   John Berggren

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Posted March 26 2002 - 11:50 AM

Cats is a almost a good example of a good way to preserve a show on DVD. They did edit out "Growltiger's last Stand" though, and I don't know why. Of course they included the dogs & cats bit which my mother tells me wasn't in the show when it openned on Broadway (it also is not on the album). Cats is -pretty- good, though ideally I'd like to have a direct stage port, and in addition to close-ups, an alternate angle of straight-on stage view. However, that goes beyond the fact that many other shows don't have DVDs at all.
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#11 of 58 OFFLINE   RafaelB

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Posted March 26 2002 - 12:13 PM

Actually, the Lincoln Center Videos are for anybody who calls and requests to view something. A good musical-phile friend of mine goes there almost every weekend to watch a show. The LC employees do monitor you to make sure you don't pirate it, but other than that, it's just a phone call away. Rafael

#12 of 58 OFFLINE   Matthew Kiernan

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Posted March 26 2002 - 12:25 PM

There is a trend going on to tape more Broadway shows for home video release. Goodtimes recently put out JEKYL AND HYDE (with David Hasselhoff) and SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE on disc (with 16x9 transfers). They serve a dual purpose: The shows are popular on video and can then be broadcast on PBS during pledge drives or on cable stations like Bravo and A&E. I recall reading a Video Store Magazine article a while back saying more shows are being planned, but I've heard nothing about it since.
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#13 of 58 OFFLINE   Page

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Posted March 26 2002 - 12:33 PM

I don't know how many people are aware of the Broadway Theater Archive which produces DVDs and videos of theater pieces. (Most were originally broadcast on PBS in the 70's.) Although not exactly what you're looking for, they provide some great shows with interesting casts. I own about six of them and the quality is pretty good, although not outstanding.



Check out this link to see what they have to offer:



http://www.broadwayarchive.com/




#14 of 58 OFFLINE   Jason Boucher

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Posted March 26 2002 - 02:17 PM

My wife and I have been lamenting the loss of the Lane/Broderick production of the Producers. It was lightning in a bottle and we prayed that a production was recorded. Previous posters seem to confirm that this practice is extremely rare. The Producers DVD cast recording is a decent substitute, and I understand a new musical film is in the works. We can only hope.

#15 of 58 OFFLINE   Doug Bull

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Posted March 26 2002 - 04:42 PM

There are a number of stage musicals that have appeared on DVD & Laserdisc either complete, or in doco form with songs, or in Concert performances, not to mention concerts featuring a number of performers in numbers from various shows. Here are some, off the top of my head, so there are no doubt more. Complete ( or edited?) shows inc, "Into the Woods" "Sweeny Todd" (coming) "A Day in the Park with George" "Victor Victoria" ( A Must, if only to see Julie Andrews) "Peter Pan" (with an energy packed performance from Cathy Rigby) "Oklahoma" ( Region 2 with Hugh Jackman in a great production)) "Smokey Joe's Cafe" "Working" ( I'm unsure of what is on the disc as it only runs around 90 mins) Original cast docos featuring songs inc, "Company" "Guys and Dolls-off the record" ( Laserdisc- Nathan Lane, Peter Gallagher and Faith Prince in a fabulous disc) "Recording the Producers with Mel Brooks" (Another fabulous disc with Mathew Broderick and Nathan Lane) "Follies in Concert" ( more behind the scenes than concert) Concerts inc, "Putting it together" "Sondheim -a celebration" "Les Miserables" "Hey Mr Producer" ( available in Hong Kong and an online show biz shop in NYC) "Jerry Herman's Broadway-at the Hollywood Bowl" ( One of my favorites) "My Favorite Broadway - The Leading Ladies" "My Favorite Broadway - The Love Songs" There are others and a search of online DVD dealers genre listings will soon uncover them. Maybe one way around the problem of a pending disc keeping attendances down, is to just record all of the musical highlights ( like an original cast CD does) I'm sure this could be done quite easily, it would not effect the boxoffice and there would be more money coming in for everyone after the show had closed.

#16 of 58 OFFLINE   Luis Esp

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Posted March 26 2002 - 06:31 PM

I would love to see Sunset Boulevard (both the original film and the ALW production) on dvd. I saw the show twice in Toronto with Diane Carrol and I've seen the ALW celebration with Glenn Close's performance. I wish they would have filmed "My Fair Lady" with Julie Andrews and Rex Harrington. I recall a few years back, I came across a LD with Broadway performances of the 50's and 60's, and it included Julie Andrews singing "Wouldn't It Be Loverly".
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#17 of 58 OFFLINE   Greg_M

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Posted March 26 2002 - 06:37 PM

Some of the more recent show have been recorded for Japanese Television. Rights usually prevent them from running in the U.S. - with the exception of Victor/Victoria orignally a Japanese presentation. "Sweeney Todd" with Angela Lansbury and "Pippin" have also been released in the States, but only "Pippin" is on DVD. Image entertainment is releasing Joe Papp's version of "The Pirate of Penzance" with Kevin Kline.

#18 of 58 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted March 26 2002 - 08:13 PM


Quote:






"A Day in the Park with George"




I believe that would be Sunday in the Park with George. Bernadette Peters was magical as always.



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#19 of 58 OFFLINE   Thomas T

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Posted March 26 2002 - 08:20 PM

The outstanding Tony award winning musical Fosse has recently been issued on DVD. I saw the show in New York and as far as I can tell only one number has been edited out of the show for DVD and that's the "Dancin' Dan" number which is too bad as it was one of the highlights of the show.

#20 of 58 OFFLINE   PatrickL

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Posted March 26 2002 - 08:22 PM

Quote:
I'm glad to hear that there is an archive at the Lincoln center of shows. I wonder how deep it goes. Is Hedwig there? Or is it just million dollar musicals?
I forget the exact year the practice was started, but the goal of the Lincoln Center archive since 1985 or so has been to preserve every production - every play and every musical - that opens on Broadway. There was a fantastic, professonally shot tape of Hedwig and the Angry Inch (which was off-Broadway) circulating among theatre industry types. Tapes like this are sometimes made by the producers involved and are officially not for sale to the public, unfortunately. But they do exist.
Quote:
"Sweeney Todd" with Angela Lansbury and "Pippin" have also been released in the States, but only "Pippin" is on DVD.
I also thought that Sweeney Todd was not issued on dvd, but a recent thread here named it as one of the most-sought after discs in seriously short supply. Btw, I also read that the upcoming Sweeney Todd disc is the recent concert version with Patti Lupone, and not a fully staged production of the show.
Quote:
I don't know how many people are aware of the Broadway Theater Archive which produces DVDs and videos of theater pieces.
Page, do you have many of these discs and, if so, which would you recommend? I have only "Antigone" with Stacy Keach and Genevieve Bujold, and "The Iceman Cometh" with Jason Robards. But the video quality is murky on both.
Quote:
but I'd want Guys and Dolls, Phantom, Annie Get Your Gun, Rent and others.
The only consolation I can offer you is that there's some movement on making a movie of Rent again, and as far as I know, CBS still plans to adapt and televise Annie Get Your Gun with Reba McEntire.


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