×

Broadway on Demand? New Streaming Service Aims to Bring Stage to Screens

Two stage producers hope to usher Broadway fare into the digital streaming era with BroadwayHD, a new subscription and on-demand service that launches today.

The service kicks off with a library of more than 100 titles drawn from Broadway Worldwide‘s Direct from Broadway catalog — including “Memphis” and “Jekyll and Hyde” — as well as product from BBC Worldwide North America and public television station WNET, including London performances featuring the likes of Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Judi Dench and Daniel Craig.

The new site bows as stage producers and presenters are increasingly exploring the opportunities for brand expansion and new revenue offered by the digital revolution. Digital cinemacasts of stage fare have become more commonplace over the years as cinema exhibitors expand into alternative content and performing-arts organizations including the Metropolitan Opera, the National Theater and the Royal Shakespeare Company launch cinema programming.

Such programs have become more common to organizations in the U.K. than they have at home on Broadway, in part because each commercial Broadway production tends to be steered by a unique team of producers with its own vision for a show’s business model, marketing plan and dissemination.

BroadwayHD founders Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley — who have been on the producing team of a long string of Broadway shows including the current “On Your Feet!” and “Sylvia” — will aim to update the library with new titles on a regular basis. They’ll concentrate at first on plays with limited runs, since that model tidily evades any stage producers’ lingering concerns about digital distribution cannibalizing audiences for ongoing shows.

Lane and Comley were previously involved in the digital capture of the recent Broadway revival of “Romeo and Juliet” starring Orlando Bloom, which played in movie theaters last year after its 2013 run on stage. It’s now available as one of the titles in the BroadwayHD catalog.

On Broadway, there remain significant challenges in convincing stage producers that digital distribution is a good thing for individual shows and for live theater overall. But Lane and Comley said that more and more people are seeing the value in it.

It’s up to the whole industry. It has to be an industry movement,” Comley said. “We’re trying to make the digital capture of a Broadway show more like an original cast recording — something that’s done for every show as a matter of course.”

 

Popular on Variety

More Legit

  • Secret Derren Brown review

    Review: 'Derren Brown: Secret'

    Audiences love to be fooled, whether it’s with clever plotting with a twist, the arrival of an unexpected character or even a charming flimflam man with a British accent. The latter is Derren Brown, and he’s entertaining audiences for a limited run at the Cort Theatre, where he is playing head-scratching mind games and other [...]

  • Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica ParkerNew York

    Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker to Reunite on Broadway for 'Plaza Suite'

    Real-life couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are hitting the Broadway stage again for a reboot of the late Neil Simon’s 1968 play “Plaza Suite.” The staging will mark the Broadway directorial debut of Tony award-winner John Benjamin Hickey. Set in New York City’s Plaza Hotel in Suite 719, “Plaza Suite” is comprised of [...]

  • Derren Brown

    Listen: Derren Brown Spills His Broadway 'Secret'

    Derren Brown has spent a lot of his career performing magic shows on theater stages — but he’ll be the first to tell you that magic usually doesn’t make for great theater. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “If you’re a magician of any sort, you can make stuff happen with a click of your [...]

  • A Very Expensive Poison review

    London Theater Review: 'A Very Expensive Poison'

    Vladimir Putin owes his power to the stage. The president’s closest advisor trained as a theatre director before applying his art to politics, and ran Russia like a staged reality, spinning so many fictions that truth itself began to blur. By scrambling the story and sowing confusion, Putin could exert absolute control. The long-awaited latest [...]

  • Betrayal review Tom Hiddleston

    Broadway Review: 'Betrayal' With Tom Hiddleston

    and Zawe Ashton as a long-married couple and Charlie Cox as the secret lover. Director Jamie Lloyd’s impeccable direction — now on Broadway, after a hot-ticket London run — strips Pinter’s 1978 play to its bare bones: the excruciating examination of the slow death of a marriage.  It’s a daring approach, leaving the characters nowhere [...]

  • Jayne Houdyshell arrives at the 71st

    'The Music Man' Revival Adds Four Tony Winners to Broadway Cast

    Tony Award-winners Jayne Houdyshell, Jefferson Mays, Marie Mullen and Shuler Hensley will join stars Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster in the upcoming Broadway revival of “The Music Man.” In “The Music Man,” Jackman will play con-man Harold Hill, who arrives in a small, fictional Iowa town called River City and urges the townsfolk to start [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content