For decades, it’s been one of New York City’s greatest attractions, and now, the musicals of Broadway are coming to a computer screen near you. Following in the footsteps of cultural institutions like the Metropolitan Opera and London’s National Theater, select Broadway performances will be live-streamed for the first time beginning June 30.
It’s a major step toward the digitization of its content by Broadway, which only recently made its hit shows available at all over the internet. But now, thanks to the Roundabout Theater Company, audiences will be able to live-stream “She Loves Me” during its brief run (it closes July 10) at Studio 54.
Responsible for the stream will be BroadwayHD, which will transmit the content to the internet, Roku, and Apple TV. While eager musical enthusiasts won’t be able to see the performance on the big screen of a movie theater, they’ll be able to choose how they watch the musical at home.
“I think it will create more interest in Broadway,” Todd Haimes, artistic director of the Roundabout, told the New York Times. “There used to be this feeling, if a movie was made of a Broadway show, that would kill the Broadway show. Then something happened. It was called ‘Chicago.’ They made the movie, and the ‘Chicago’ sales went through the roof.”
While Off-Broadway shows like “Buried Child” and “Old Hats” have been live-streamed before, this will be the first time a production of such magnitude is made available to audiences in real-time outside of the theater. Much of Broadway’s reluctance, it seems, can be traced back to whether or not such a move will ultimately prove profitable for the industry.
“The most difficult part of this is the cost — everyone has to get compensation — and the challenge is determining the value of the live-stream,” said producer Ken Davenport, who previously streamed a performance of an Off-Broadway musical, “Daddy Long Legs.” While he had quite the audience for the show (150,000 people), he told the Times that it was not profitable.
Still, bringing the theater to greater numbers of watchers seems to be of interest to both theater companies and actors alike. Laura Benanti, one of the stars of “She Loves Me,” told the Times via email, “The theater is such a vitally important part of our culture. The more people able to experience it, the better off we will all be.”
To watch the live-stream, you’ll either have to subscribe to BroadwayHD, or pay $9.99 to watch on the website.