There’s no Broadway right now, but there is streaming service BroadwayHD — and life during social distancing is changing the way people watch it.
Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:
For one thing: Subscribers have never previously binge-watched the service’s filmed musicals and plays, but they’re doing it now. “People are watching one after another right now,” said BroadwayHD co-founder Bonnie Comley on the latest episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety‘s theater podcast. “It’s a totally different viewing pattern than we’ve seen previously.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, BroadwayHD’s viewership has spiked during the nationwide shutdown. “It’s really catapulted us into about a year and a half ahead of our projections,” said co-founder Stewart F. Lane on “Stagecraft.” Now, he added, it’s BroadwayHD’s job to sustain theater fans’ enthusiasm. “I want to keep people excited about Broadway theater,” he said. “Whether it’s Arthur Miller or Andrew Lloyd Webber, you’ve got to keep that spirit going.”
“We are believers in this art form,” echoed Comley. “We are here, BroadwayHD, to support in any way that we can and keep the appetite going.”
With Lane, Comley is also a stage producer of shows including “The Lightning Thief” and “The Minutes,” the Tracy Letts play that was in Broadway previews when the shutdown hit. Just like everyone else, they also don’t know when theaters will start up operations again.
“It’s trying to figure out how we reopen Broadway,” Comley noted of the ongoing discussions among producers and The Broadway League. “Do we [re-open] in sections or layers? Two theaters, or two shows or three shows at a time? Or do the plays go first and then the musicals go second? It’s a lot of people with their heads together trying to figure out what’s the best way to come back after this.”
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