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View Full Version : Why no Broadway musicals on DVD?


sqweels
11-01-2007, 04:44 PM
Not that I'm..you know...into Broadway musicals...

But I wouldn't mind a DVD of a production of Spamalot just for starters. And Hair. You'd think it would be easy enough to point a couple cameras at the stage (I'm not talking about Hollywood film versions), with or without an audience present. And there's bound to be a market for that kind of thing.

I think it's a racket.

CalMeacham
11-01-2007, 04:55 PM
Pippin

http://amazon.com/Pippin-Ben-Vereen/dp/B00004W5VC/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2/103-5654502-9281462?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1193950463&sr=8-2



There are others -- I think Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is available as well. It's just that, once a film version exists, they seem to prefer to market that.


You can find operas on DVD, too.

CalMeacham
11-01-2007, 04:57 PM
In fact, look down the linked page to find Into the Woods and Sweeney Todd




(Memo to self -- look before you post)

Karen Lingel
11-01-2007, 04:58 PM
A lot of Sondheim's stuff is on DVD: Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, Passion, The Barber that Cuts Up People and his Girlfriend Makes them Into Meat Pies (can never remember the title of that one.)

Sampiro
11-01-2007, 05:07 PM
Netflix has a few: Barnum (incredible staging and acrobatics, incidentally), Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, etc.. Andrew Lloyd Webber is the main person who releases DVDs of B'way productions, though he waits until they've run their course, but almost all B'way shows are taped and I've often wondered why they don't go for the home market once the show is over. Or even before it's over, for that matter: Fiddler on the Roof is a hit whenever it's revived and it's been a (great) movies for 30+ years and done by every high school group.

Speaking of Broadway meets film news, Barbra Streisand is in negotiations (http://zimbio.com/Barbra+Streisand/articles/18/Streep+Close+Streisand+Vie+Sunset+Boulevard) (along with Glenn Close) to play Norma Desmond in the film adaptation of the musical version of Sunset Blvd. Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!

Sampiro
11-01-2007, 05:10 PM
The Barber that Cuts Up People and his Girlfriend Makes them Into Meat Pies (can never remember the title of that one.)

Sweeney Todd, soon to be a major motion picture for the Christmas season (http://youtube.com/watch?v=yQM9TK9V2R4) (though the lyrics "Attend the tale of the Barber that Cuts Up People/He served a dark and vengeful God" has a ring to :D ).

Plynck
11-01-2007, 05:13 PM
...The Barber that Cuts Up People and his Girlfriend Makes them Into Meat Pies (can never remember the title of that one.)Funny Girl?

pinkfreud
11-01-2007, 05:14 PM
The DVD of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats (http://amazon.com/Cats-Musical-Commemorative-Elaine-Paige/dp/B00004XMTJ/) is delightful. I've seen the show several times on stage, and never enjoyed it as much as this version.

Sampiro
11-01-2007, 05:20 PM
Funny Girl?

No, that's about the political activist who chews up scenery.

garygnu
11-01-2007, 05:25 PM
There was a guest asking about this recently, but I can't find the thread. PBS has a good selection, but I'd imagine you can get the same stuff on Amazon.

pinkfreud
11-01-2007, 05:26 PM
The movie version of Hair (http://amazon.com/Hair-John-Savage/dp/0792841638/) isn't bad, although everybody is too old. My main complaint is that they left out my favorite song, "Frank Mills."

Sampiro
11-01-2007, 05:31 PM
One I'd love to see on DVD is Purlie. There was a production of it (not sure if it was B'way or LA) starring Robert Guillaume, Sherman Hemsley, Melba Moore and several "that's the woman from that show" actors that had some fantastic moments. (Ossie Davis hated the musical, but mainly because of one admittedly unthought out number.)
There are (http://youtube.com/watch?v=8UF5EyCd_cM) clips on (http://youtube.com/watch?v=HZ3FZf3FOIE) YouTube, including the hauntingly beautiful (if only to me) duet Down Home (http://youtube.com/watch?v=GsbHHHGo0j4).

dropzone
11-01-2007, 05:37 PM
I met a boy called Frank Mills
On September twelfth right here
In front of the Waverly
But unfortunately
I lost his address

Yep, best song in the show and a sorry lack from the movie.

I can't imagine there would be a problem with the stage versions taking sales from the movies because REAL fans would buy BOTH!

I'm glad my daughter is bringing a friend to Saturday's trivia contest at work because one of the categories is songs from musicals. Our periods don't overlap--I'm Jesus Christ Superstar and before and he's Any Sondheim and other newer stuff.

JThunder
11-01-2007, 05:56 PM
I can't imagine there would be a problem with the stage versions taking sales from the movies because REAL fans would buy BOTH!
Yeah, but people who aren't real fans wouldn't, and a lot of consumers are not real fans.

Eyebrows 0f Doom
11-01-2007, 09:34 PM
There was a guest asking about this recently, but I can't find the thread. PBS has a good selection, but I'd imagine you can get the same stuff on Amazon.
I think you're talking about this thread: real theater dvds (http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/showthread.php?t=438216)

Mangetout
11-01-2007, 09:43 PM
You'd think it would be easy enough to point a couple cameras at the stage (I'm not talking about Hollywood film versions), with or without an audience present.It would be easy, yes, but it would be difficult to get a really satisfactory result that way.

Bricker
11-01-2007, 09:50 PM
One I'd love to see on DVD is Purlie. There was a production of it (not sure if it was B'way or LA) starring Robert Guillaume, Sherman Hemsley, Melba Moore and several "that's the woman from that show" actors that had some fantastic moments. (Ossie Davis hated the musical, but mainly because of one admittedly unthought out number.)
There are (http://youtube.com/watch?v=8UF5EyCd_cM) clips on (http://youtube.com/watch?v=HZ3FZf3FOIE) YouTube, including the hauntingly beautiful (if only to me) duet Down Home (http://youtube.com/watch?v=GsbHHHGo0j4).

Ahem. It's true that Robert Guillaume was in the show, but he was not the orginal Purlie V. Judson. That honor is held by Cleavon Little, who actually won a Tony for the role. Guillaume replaced Little during the show's run, but it's Little whose voice is on the cast recording.

Which I have. In vinyl. Soon to be converted to mp3.

Sampiro
11-01-2007, 10:22 PM
Ahem. It's true that Robert Guillaume was in the show, but he was not the orginal Purlie V. Judson. That honor is held by Cleavon Little, who actually won a Tony for the role. Guillaume replaced Little during the show's run, but it's Little whose voice is on the cast recording.

Which I have. In vinyl. Soon to be converted to mp3.

I have it on vinyl and on CD, because I know how to show my love for Cleavon. (But I prefer Guillaume.)

Sampiro
11-01-2007, 10:31 PM
The movie version of Hair (http://amazon.com/Hair-John-Savage/dp/0792841638/) isn't bad, although everybody is too old. My main complaint is that they left out my favorite song, "Frank Mills."

Did you hear Harvey Fierstein sing it at a recent concert version of HAIR? Interesting. (The song, for those who don't know, was literally just an ad in a newspaper that Rado and Ragni and McDermott put to music [though they might have changed the name].)

I'd like to see the John Barrowman production of HAIR, though mainly because I'd like to see John Barrowman take his flag (http://sparklies.org/gallery/displayimage.php?album=lastcom&cat=0&pos=0) off. (Now imagine if they released Radcliffe's EQUUS on DVD- that would probably set DVD sale records in all genres.)

Hey, It's That Guy!
11-01-2007, 10:40 PM
I think there is some undeniable snob appeal associated with Broadway shows, where the small circle of rich New Yorkers who get to enjoy shows on a regular basis would somehow feel their special experience is cheapened by releasing them on DVD for the unwashed masses. Sure, tourists get to go to New York City to catch shows on Broadway -- I did it myself, when I saw Rent and Les Miserables over the summer -- and shows tour all the time. But attending the theater is still an expensive form of entertainment, and usually something for "the elite" to enjoy, rather than most families, students, younger couples on dates, and so forth. Packaging shows just like movies would reduce some of that grandeur and mystique for the core audience, even if it meant expanding the overall audience and allowing more people to enjoy the same things.

Usually we'll just have to wait for shows to be adapted into movies, which are usually just as good (or at least different enough to be interesting). On that note, it would be great to get a Les Miserables movie based on the actual show, and a Wicked movie before Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth get too old to play the parts they created.

pinkfreud
11-01-2007, 10:48 PM
Did you hear Harvey Fierstein sing it at a recent concert version of HAIR? Interesting. Somehow I have no difficulty imagining Harvey Fierstein pining after a guy whose motorcycle jacket says MARY and MOM and HELL'S ANGELS. I'd love to see or hear this. The CD of the Actor's Fund of America concert has Annie Golden doing "Frank Mills," while Harvey does "Air."

choie
11-01-2007, 11:47 PM
I think there is some undeniable snob appeal associated with Broadway shows, where the small circle of rich New Yorkers who get to enjoy shows on a regular basis would somehow feel their special experience is cheapened by releasing them on DVD for the unwashed masses.

With respect, that is really a paranoid theory. As if it's likely theatrical producers wouldn't prefer to make skillions of bucks from these hypothetical unwashed masses than cater to the hypothetical elite NY snobs who want to keep these theatrical productions some kind of secret rite. I mean ... seriously? That's just not part of the mindset I've ever experienced. Do you also think operagoers and balletomanes here think: "oh, it's simply ghastly that PBS exposes our beloved Met and ABT to the hoi polloi!"

DVDs aren't created for currently-performing shows for the simple reason that producers don't believe it's fiscally smart to cut off their potential audience for ongoing productions and touring companies by having DVD competition. Why would people go out and see the live version touring their locality for $25 a ticket when they could Netflix a DVD of the original B'way production for a fraction of the cost?

Theatrical productions are such huge financial gambles anyway, those who back 'em aren't willing to take an even bigger risk.

C K Dexter Haven
11-02-2007, 08:19 AM
There's a KISS ME KATE that's not bad.

My own wild guesses on why there aren't more:

Length: Typical show runs for longer than what one DVD might hold. I'm guessing here, based on length of a show compared to length of a movie.

Camera location: Where do you put the camera? You can't dolly it around the stage, it would interfere with the action. So, basically, you've got cameras at a couple of locations around the audience, and you can perhaps swerve them slightly to get some movement, or you can cut between them. That tends to make a static and somewhat jerky thing to view, which gets boring or annoying fairly quickly. I've got a DVD of the Joseph Papp production of PIRATES OF PENZANCE and it's almost unwatchable.

Quality of photography: Start with camera location as above: the camera is (let's suppose) at various places around the audience, aimed at the stage (which may be well-lit, but may be partly darkened in some scenes.) Thus, lighting is a problem, and the film (or digital, whatever) can come out grainy.

If you're filming a live performance, then you get audience coughs and sneezes and rustling into the sound track. You'd need to film a special no-audience performance for best quality, and that's expensive.

Legal rights: Pure speculation: Once a studio has the rights to a play, there's probably a contractual clause that prohibits the theatre production company from producing or selling a competing DVD.

Financial: The theatre production company certainly doesn't want the DVD available during the run of the show: they're rather sell tickets at $100 a pop than sell DVDs at $15 to people who then probably won't buy tickets.

Anyhow, them's my guesses.

CalMeacham
11-02-2007, 08:31 AM
I think there is some undeniable snob appeal associated with Broadway shows, where the small circle of rich New Yorkers who get to enjoy shows on a regular basis would somehow feel their special experience is cheapened by releasing them on DVD for the unwashed masses. Sure, tourists get to go to New York City to catch shows on Broadway -- I did it myself, when I saw Rent and Les Miserables over the summer -- and shows tour all the time. But attending the theater is still an expensive form of entertainment, and usually something for "the elite" to enjoy, rather than most families, students, younger couples on dates, and so forth. Packaging shows just like movies would reduce some of that grandeur and mystique for the core audience, even if it meant expanding the overall audience and allowing more people to enjoy the same things.


Didn't useta be. I grew up 45 minutes from Midtown Manhattan, and we used to go to Broadway shows all the time. Even without going to the "twofers" and last-minute booths, shows weren't terifically expensive. More expensive than the movies, certainly, but by no means astronomical. (When I saw Sherlock Holmes with John Wood and the Royal Shaekspeare Company on Broadway in 1975, it cost me --- I swear this is true ---











$2.50






Two Dollars and Fifty Cents.





They were SRO tickets, but I bought 'em at the box office.





I'll agree that there seems to be some sort of snobbery attached to Broadway, even from the time of cheap tickets. Paul Fussell complained in his book Class about Broadway shows advertising on television "as if the same audience that went to shows watched television" -- another example of why I hate the guy. Nowadays Broadway prices are outrageous, though.

Annie-Xmas
11-02-2007, 08:45 AM
David Hasselhoff's most famous video was Frank Wildhorn's Jekyll & Hyde (http://hasselhoff.shop.musictoday.com/Product.aspx?cp=11518_11781&pc=H5AM03DVD). That is, until recently.

JThunder
11-02-2007, 08:55 AM
Financial: The theatre production company certainly doesn't want the DVD available during the run of the show: they're rather sell tickets at $100 a pop than sell DVDs at $15 to people who then probably won't buy tickets.I think that's the #1 reason right there.

Zebra
11-02-2007, 10:28 AM
I think there is some undeniable snob appeal associated with Broadway shows, where the small circle of rich New Yorkers who get to enjoy shows on a regular basis would somehow feel their special experience is cheapened by releasing them on DVD for the unwashed masses. Sure, tourists get to go to New York City to catch shows on Broadway -- I did it myself, when I saw Rent and Les Miserables over the summer -- and shows tour all the time. But attending the theater is still an expensive form of entertainment, and usually something for "the elite" to enjoy, rather than most families, students, younger couples on dates, and so forth. Packaging shows just like movies would reduce some of that grandeur and mystique for the core audience, even if it meant expanding the overall audience and allowing more people to enjoy the same things.

Usually we'll just have to wait for shows to be adapted into movies, which are usually just as good (or at least different enough to be interesting). On that note, it would be great to get a Les Miserables movie based on the actual show, and a Wicked movie before Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth get too old to play the parts they created.


HA!


Broadway shows today are almost exclusivly for TOURISTS. Snobby New Yorkers look down on Broadway musicals.


The real reason is that there are union contracts that prevent the recording of a show. You would have to work out the royalty payments to the actors, musician, and tech unions before you can simply set up a few cameras, and make a dvd.

Eyebrows 0f Doom
11-02-2007, 07:08 PM
The real reason is that there are union contracts that prevent the recording of a show. You would have to work out the royalty payments to the actors, musician, and tech unions before you can simply set up a few cameras, and make a dvd.
Yeah, that's pretty much it. And for most shows it's simply not cost effective to go through all the legal & financial hurdles. Some recent shows, as I posted in the thread I linked to, have been filmed though so it is possible if they get enough financing.


Camera location: Where do you put the camera? You can't dolly it around the stage, it would interfere with the action. So, basically, you've got cameras at a couple of locations around the audience, and you can perhaps swerve them slightly to get some movement, or you can cut between them. That tends to make a static and somewhat jerky thing to view, which gets boring or annoying fairly quickly. I've got a DVD of the Joseph Papp production of PIRATES OF PENZANCE and it's almost unwatchable.
Actually, when they filmed Legally Blonde in September they had a huge crane camera that would swoop in and around the stage, as well as a stedicam operator who would walk on the stage amongst the actors to get close ups. However, this was an invited performance, held on a day the show is normally dark, so there was no paying audience to deal with. They did film Company on a regular performance day, but as that has not yet aired I don't know how it will be cut together. I did read from those who went that they had several crane cameras that would move up and down & that the audience was made aware of this fact before the show.

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