Roundabout Theater Company is getting in on the HD cinemacast trend, with the Gotham nonprofit’s Broadway staging of “The Importance of Being Earnest” to be filmed later this month for a string of U.S. and international screenings in June.
Roundabout teams with L.A. Theater Works, the West Coast org that specializes in audio recordings of legit works, and digital producer-distributor BY Experience to film and disseminate “Earnest.”
With the ease of digital delivery enabling a recent push of alternative content to theaters, “Earnest” joins a growing slate of stage-on-screen offerings including the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series as well as NT Live, a similiar simulcast initiative from London’s National Theater. Both series are worked on by BY Experience.
Last month perfs of commercial Broadway tuner “Memphis” were recorded for editing into a single full-length version of the show that will see a theatrical release at a date to be determined.
“Earnest” won’t be broadcast live, as is the case with offerings from the Met and NT Live. Seven HD digital cameras will film three “Earnest” perfs March 11-12, in front of live audiences. One single perf will be chosen from the three as the version that will hit screens in its entirety, without incorporating edits from the other recorded perfs.
The public’s familiarity with the title “Earnest” — Oscar Wilde’s best-known play — helps make the show a suitable candidate for cinema distribution. Production, which is helmed by Brian Bedford and in which he also stars as Lady Bracknell, has proven popular enough at the Roundabout to spur a 17-week extension. Staging originated at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 2009.
Exec producers for the screen version are BY Experience’s Julie Borchard-Young and Robert Borchard-Young, Susan A. Loewenberg for L.A. Theater Works, and Roundabout’s Harold Wolpert. Funding for the project comes from the Sidney E. Frank Foundation.
“Earnest” will bow in the U.S. and abroad June 2, with further dates to be skedded through June 30. Stage production runs through July 3.