An Ode To Recorded Theatre~ How To Enjoy Broadway From The Comfort Of Your Own Home

Yo, my friends!

For those of you who haven’t become acquainted with the fact, I love theatre. I participate in theatrical productions in my community, I go to local shows, and I listen to original cast recordings of Broadway musicals galore. I also sometimes spend way more money than I probably should to go see live performances of Broadway shows on tour.

And they are, in a word, dazzling.

But, well, theatre is kind of shut down at the moment. Also, sometimes I just don’t want to go outside, even when we’re not in the middle of a quarantine situation.

How do I experience the brilliance of these shows then?

Well, folks, let me tell you.

Professional live theatre recordings! No, it is not as awesome as seeing a show live, and I will never stop doing that as well, but it’s still pretty amazing. It also allows me to see shows that I never could have seen otherwise (without borrowing exorbitant amounts of money and flying out to Broadway or the West End and spending the rest of my life paying off my poor financial decisions), and that, my friends, is a wondrous thing indeed.

This post is basically an ode to this form of entertainment, this strange hybrid between live theatre and television.

Here are a few shows that I have seen through this means. And they are all wonderful.

Crazy for You (PBS Great Performances)

This was on television in…1999, I believe? So I wouldn’t really remember it, but thankfully my father had the foresight to record it (on a VHS, because it was THAT long ago) and now we can watch it whenever we want.

(It’s so ancient that I can’t find a picture from it, but oh well.)

The story is about a young New Yorker named Bobby Child who wants to make it in show business, but his mother wants him to be a banker or something. He ends up going to the little town of Deadrock, Nevada, on bank business, and finds a show business opportunity he never dreamed of…as well as romance, but you probably saw that coming.

This show is a comedy, with lots of fun dancing and humor. An interesting fact is that the songs used in it are all Gershwin songs, written several decades before the show was written. Gotta love Gershwin.


The Phantom of the Opera (25th anniversary)

An Enterprise Of Geeks: Review - The Phantom Of The Opera 25th ...
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The 25th anniversary performance of Phantom at the Royal Albert Hall is phenomenal. The CAST. Someone decided to put Sierra, Ramin and Hadley in the same room, and it was an excellent idea. And the COSTUMES. I geek out about this stuff. It’s fine.

The story is based on the early 19th century French novel of the same name, and is about an opera house that is haunted by a deformed man who is a musical genius and also has a hobby of killing people. He is obsessed with an unfortunate ballet dancer, Christine, and convinces her that he is her dead father’s Angel of Music. not creepy at all.

But! Creepiness aside, the story is actual wonderful and redemptive, the music is amazing, and this recording is the BEST.

Here is a clip:


Newsies

Newsies Take the Nation | Broadway Direct
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Unlike the previous shows mentioned, I actually saw Newsies live before seeing the filmed version. Thus, I am totally biased towards the touring cast.

However, the original Broadway cast (the ones in the recording, for the most part) do an awesome job too, and this was a great way to see the show again.

This high energy musical is loosely based on an actual newsboys strike that took place in New York in 1899. It is full of stunning dancing, a wonderful arsenal of songs by Alan Menken, and just the right amount of angst. Many of the characters are lovable and we all need to spend more time appreciating Hannah because she is a gem. Also, the costumes.

It’s so much fun.


An American in Paris (PBS Great Performances)

An American in Paris The Musical | Full Episode | Great ...
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Set just after the end of WWII in Paris (duh), An American in Paris follows the stories of:

Jerry: an obnoxiously outgoing American artist just back from the army

Lise: a reserved, French ballet dancer

Henri: a wealthy Frenchman who secretly wants to be a nightclub singer

Adam: an American composer studying in Paris after the war

and Milo: a wealthy American patron of the arts.

The story is narrated by Adam, my son.

Like Crazy for You, this show utilizes Gershwin songs. It combines musical theatre with ballet in a lovely way, and the production design is brilliant. It also has a fantastic cast. And costumes. Here is a clip:

Seriously, just watch it. It’s hilarious. And you will meet Adam, my son.


She Loves Me (PBS Great Performances)

She Loves Me Airs on PBS October 20 | Playbill
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What would we do without PBS, guys?

I know I keep using this word, but this show is phenomenal. It’s a charming romantic comedy about two coworkers that fall in love with each other through letters- even though they can’t stand each other in real life.

Georg and Amalia (the leading couple) are both terribly endearing- they love books and art and they feel socially inadequate most of the time, and honestly I relate. The delivery boy, Arpad, is my son (I have several).

The production design is beautiful- the entire set is like a sweet little dollhouse. The costumes are wonderful. The cast is wonderful. Everything, in fact, about this production is wonderful.

And it features ice cream. What’s not to love?

Tony Nominations 2016 (With images) | Tony nominations, She loves ...
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Bandstand

She Says: Bandstand Lost in Translation – Times Square Chronicles
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This show is underrated, and I am so glad that I got to see it.

Post WWII, former musical prodigy Donny Novinski is trying to cope with trauma and figure out what his life looks like now. He ends up starting an all veteran swing band in order to enter a national contest that he’s absolutely sure he can win.

There is also the matter of his best friend Michael’s widow, Julia Trojan, who he is supposed to check up on. And what do you know, she can SING. And write poetry (or perhaps SONG LYRICS).

The show focuses mainly on Julia and Donny both grappling with Michael’s death. It demonstrates how music can be a way to express things we don’t know how to say, and how it can maybe lead toward healing wounds we don’t want to admit we have.

The other members of the band, Jimmy, Davy, Nick, Wayne and Johnny are all beautiful humans with their own baggage from the war. And I love them dearly.

I know I keep talking about angst, but this show is also hilarious. Julia’s mother makes me laugh pretty much every time she opens her mouth…or just exists. And the dancing is amazing!

A cool fact about the show is that the members of the band are all actually playing their instruments- they’re not just actors pretending that they know what they’re doing.

This song made me cry the first two times I listened to it, completely out of context. That’s how good it is.


Epilogue

I love Broadway shows, and I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to see these recordings. With the exceptions of Newsies and Phantom, I wouldn’t know how awesome these musicals were without the blessing of recorded theatre. And what would I possibly do without Bobby, Georg, Amalia, Adam, Henri, Wayne and Julia in my life?

Have you seen any of these shows, live or from the comfort of your own home? What are your favorite musicals? Do you geek out about costumes as much as I apparently do? Have you watched the “I Got Rhythm” clip yet? If not, what are you waiting for??? (Just kidding- kind of.) Do you like stories that make you cry?

36 thoughts on “An Ode To Recorded Theatre~ How To Enjoy Broadway From The Comfort Of Your Own Home

  1. Really enjoyed this post!! I love musical theater and in fact I just watched Bandstand with my sisters the other weekend. Newsies is one of my favorite musicals!!! Les Miserables would also be in my top 3. What would your top 3 musicals be? I’ve had the Phantom of the Opera on my to watch list, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.

    http://www.pagestoremember.com/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, Newsies is quite wonderful. And I ADORE Les Miserables. It might be my favorite musical. I wish that they had a fully staged recording of it, but we have to make do with the concerts. It is hard to pick a top three, but maybe Les Mis, Secret Garden and Phantom? The only production of Secret Garden that I’ve seen is a community theatre one, but I really like the music. I love Newsies a lot too though. It’s hard to choose. Thanks for reading!

      Like

      1. My grandma is the one who introduced me to Les Miserables so it will always hold a special place in my heart. I had no idea they made a musical of the Secret Garden. I’ll have to go look and see if I can find the recording.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not crazy about musical theatre, but I kind of want to see She Loves Me and Bandstand now. Also I’ve always meant to see An American in Paris someday. Because Gershwin.
    And I have actually seen Newsies! A friend of a friend was crew for a community theatre production of it, and this friend lives eight hours away from me and I’d been wanting to visit her anyway so we used Newsies as an excuse and I visited her and we went to see it. It was really good. The person who played the daughter (I forget her name, but the one Jack falls in love with?) was so good. Jack was really good too. Also I can say that I’ve driven eight hours to see Newsies. Heh.
    Anyway Newsies is probably my favorite musical, closely followed by Singing in the Rain…

    You know, I don’t know what I think about sad stories. I love happy stories, like Winnie-the-Pooh…but also my absolute favorite part of those books is the last scene of The House at Pooh Corner, which is, like, heartwrenching? I think I like a good balance of lightheartedness and underplayed angst. That’s kind of how life is; people go around joking, and they rarely wear their hearts on their sleeves about their problems. All of which is to say, Bandstand really does sound great and I really must watch it now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe, I am pleased to know that I have piqued your interest in these shows. That was my secret intention. Actually it wasn’t a secret at all, but anyway…
      I know, right? Gershwin is deserving of attention.
      That’s awesome! Yeah, Newsies is pretty great. Eight hours! Holy cow.
      YES. Balance between lightheartedness and underplayed angst is what we all need. Or at least what I need. My absolutely favorite stories need to have both of those things, and I think it’s true that it’s that balance that best reflects real life, which is probably why we are drawn to it. Stories that act like everything is happy or stories that act like everything is terrible just don’t ring true. Bandstand has that balance I think. Except when Julia’s mom sings this one song that I low-key despise about how nothing means anything. But we just ignore that part.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love Phantom of the Opera and Newies, but these other shows are completely new to me! They looks so interesting…. I’m going to have to bookmark this post so I can come back to it later for reference.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Love Phantom of the Opera (saw the 25th anniversary just a week ago). I have seen the filmed Newsies stage production multiple times- that was AFTER I saw the tour.

    Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary isn’t the only thing I saw on TV recently- Joseph as well.

    At least, I have my musical movies

    Liked by 1 person

  5. me, in Australia, a lonnng way from Broadway: I need to get my hands on some recordings

    I’ve read about Newsies on several blogs and the dancing looks so EPIC. Also I’ve never heard of She Loves Me before but that’s Zachary Levi so it gets extra Interest Points from me. xD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, yes! Recordings are the way to go.
      The dancing in Newsies is pretty spectacular. You should watch it if you get the chance! She Loves Me is a lot of fun, though with quite a bit less dancing. Zachary Levi is such a talented actor, I love watching him! The first movie I saw him in was Tangled. 🙂

      Like

      1. I knew him from a couple of episodes of Chuck, and I didn’t initially realise it was him in Tangled! (Neither did I realise it was him in Thor.)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This post made me think of a video you might be interested in! John Krasinksi (he played Jim in The Office if that’s of help) started a Youtube channel very recently called SMG–some good news–and for I think the second episode he organized the entire original Broadway cast to perform a song over zoom for a girl who is an immense Hamilton fan and was planning on seeing it on Broadway before everything closed. It’s really amazing and kind.
    Also, I did not know how much Gershwin songs were used in musicals??

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ooh I got to see my college theater’s production of Crazy for You semi-recently! It was great fun. Gershwin really IS wonderful. I should familiarize myself with An American in Paris.

    And Welcome Home gets me right here, too.

    This is a great post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. (Meant to comment for more than a month now…)

    Oooh – I love this post! Allow me to say that I shall always recall you as the one who got me to watch POTO and musicals in general. During COVID, I basically bookmarked this post and your other one on your favorite musicals and bought POTO, Love Never Dies, Anastasia, The Secret Garden, Beauty and the Beast 🙂 – all per your suggestion – and The Scarlet Pimpernel to add to my Les Mis, Tale of Two Cities, and The Greatest Showman (which were my entire musical collection).

    (I know I know – will have to check out Newsies and the others. But I’m so happy and grateful for your posts and – POTO got me to finally start practice singing again, which is a huge leap for me since I haven’t done so for 5+ years…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My top three (from my shamefully short listened-to list) are:
      1. Les Mis – 10th Ann. recording because of Colm Wilkinson and Lea Salonga and Michael Ball, and the story is so epic
      2. POTO 25th Ann. recording – story-wise less epic in scale to Les Mis, but the emotion and acting conveyed by Sierra, Ramin, and Hadley respectively are, in a word, incomparable
      3. A Tale of Two Cities, The Scarlet Pimpernel, or Anastasia (I’m quite certain I listened to/watched the In a Crowd of Thousands duet twenty times by now….)

      (Forgot to mention Jane Eyre in my list above)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. YES. Those are all great ones. The 10th anniversary of Les Mis is one of my favorite recordings as well. I adore Lea Salonga. And the 25th of Phantom is the BEST Phantom recording. Sierra, Ramin and Hadley are so amazing. Ah, it just makes me so happy to see that you are enjoying so many musicals!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Wow, that is so awesome! I never knew I could be so inspiring. 😉 I am quite pleased that you found my musical posts helpful. I am very glad to hear that you enjoyed Phantom and started singing again because of it! Singing is amazing.
      There are so many fantastic musical soundtracks out there, and I am happy that you have expanded your collection!

      Liked by 1 person

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