Why Live Streaming Musicals May Be the Future of Broadway

Gianluca Russo

OnStage New York Columnist

There are a few things I love more than the weeks leading up to the Tony Awards. As the excitement builds and nominees rise to the spotlight, there is nothing more riveting than preparations for the night that can make a star. But with all great actions comes negative reactions, and among these are closings of Tony Award snubbed shows. 

The news that Tuck Everlasting would be shuttering on the Great White Way this upcoming Sunday didn’t come as much of a surprise. Ticket sales had been down and due to the talent packed 2015-2016 Broadway season, not enough attention was placed on the show. Broadway is a business and though we may be emotionally connected to a piece, if there’s not enough revenue fluctuating in, the plug is pulled. 

I regretfully will not be able to see Tuck Everlasting before it concludes its short run, thus why I took the closing notice difficulty. The show is truly a masterpiece, from the touching story to the empowering score to the phenomenal and stunning set design by Walt Spangler. Yet, the show received almost no Tony Award love.

As I scrolled through social media the day the closing notice was posted, thespians from all over the country poured out their love for the show and were incredibly saddened by the realization that they would not be able to witness this theatrical wonder before it closed. I began to think to myself, what if there was a way for theatre fans all over the world to see the show without having to come to New York?

And then I remembered that last December, off-Broadway’s Daddy Long Legs had done just so by live streaming their production all over the world. In fact, over 150,000 viewers tuned in to watch the musical starring Megan McGinnis and Adam Halpin (which you must catch before it closes on June 6 at the Davenport Theatre). If an off-Broadway show could draw in that many viewers, imagine what a big Broadway musical like Tuck Everlasting could do!

In an interview with Daddy Long Legs lead producer Ken Davenport, he mentioned the possibility of live streams becoming more frequent in the future. He also stated that if shows were to charge viewers for tuning in, even if the price is much less than an actual theatre ticket, musicals could bring in a nice amount of change from the live stream.

So why haven’t more live streams been done? I’m not a Broadway producer (well not yet, at least), so I’m not aware of the process and work that goes into this sort of project. But as an avid theatre lover and wanna-be member of the Broadway community, why is it that Daddy Long Legs is the only show to partake in a live stream? 

In the case of Tuck Everlasting, ticket prices begin at $59 according to Broadway.com. Let’s imagine that if a live stream of the show took place, 200,000 viewers tuned in. Now, when it comes to charging viewers, complications arise, such as multiple people watching the show from one location. So let’s say only 75,000 of those viewers pay for the live stream. If each one of them is charged $12.50, the same as a typical movie theatre ticket, the show would garner $937,500 from that one performance. Last week alone, Tuck Everlasting grossed $325,361 from eight performances. With this potential live stream, the show would draw in almost three times that amount!

Again, I have yet to produce a Broadway show, and therefore am unaware of the process that comes with live streaming musicals. But, if live streaming could save musicals from closing, even if for just a few weeks more, who wouldn’t want to make that happen?

What do you think about live streaming? Could it save some of our most beloved Broadway shows? Are you a producer who can shed some light on this topic for me? Connect with me on social media @g_russo1 or send me an email at Gianluca.Russo97@gmail.com to discuss this topic further.