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‘Memphis’ to be filmed for HD screenings

Broadway musical looks to boost brand recognition

Broadway tuner “Memphis” will be filmed in performance this month in preparation for HD digital screenings around the country in spring.

Move reps another step in stage producers’ shifting conception of the uses and pitfalls of screen adaptations. Until recent years, legiters tended to believe that a film or TV version of a show still on the boards would cannibalize biz from the live production.

More recently, however, they have begun to explore ways of boosting the brand via a berth on national screens. The 2007 musical “Legally Blonde,” for instance, was filmed during its run for broadcast on MTV to pump awareness of the tuner title and lay the promotional groundwork for when the show hit the road.

The producers of “Memphis” similarly aim to exploit the national branding and marketing benefits of the upcoming screenings.

Musical’s slow box office build last season, culminating in the Tony win for musical in June, could be attributed in part to the challenges of attracting consumers to a new title with an unfamiliar story and no big-name stars.

Broadway Worldwide will produce the cinema version, to be helmed by Don Roy King (“Saturday Night Live,” “Survivor”). Matt Kaplowitz is sound producer.

Musical will be filmed during regularly skedded perfs Tuesday-Jan. 21, using multiple HD cams and 96 tracks for sound recording. Specifics of the theatrical release, including dates, have yet to be announced.

“Memphis” will hit theaters in a distribution climate in which HD screenings of live entertainment are becoming increasingly common thanks in part to high-profile simulcasts from companies including the Metropolitan Opera and London’s National Theater.

Stage version of “Memphis” is produced by Junkyard Dog Prods., Barbara and Buddy Freitag and Kenny and Marleen Alhadeff, among others.