Is Musical Theater Made for Small-Screen Consumption on the Horizon?
When a musical prepares to make the transfer from a smaller, lesser-known venue to Broadway (where theaters hold 500-plus seats), often there's a collective intake of breath from all involved. After all, a bigger house means more tickets to sell in order to stay in the black, and sometimes shows with even the most tenacious fan bases can't quite navigate such a jump. But what about the transfer from stage…to screen? Is Broadway ready to be consumed from the comfort of your couch?
Netflix thinks so. In December, the streaming giant adapted one of the final performances of Springsteen on Broadway—Bruce Springsteen's limited-engagement show at the Walter Kerr Theatre—into a film, released the day after the show closed. In February, Netflix produced what star Kerry Washington called a "movie/play hybrid" of American Son, which began filming just after the play finished its run at the Booth Theatre. And just last month, it was announced that two Broadway shows are being adapted into feature films by Netflix: The Boys in the Band, a play that ran last summer with a star-studded cast, and The Prom, which received seven Tony nominations (including Best Musical). If the trend continues, this could mean big things in terms of Broadway's accessibility. People who can't afford pricey tickets, don't live in New York City or can't snag seats to a sold-out show (ahem, Hamilton) could finally watch not-live-but-almost theater from their living rooms.
Netflix isn't the only one with its eye on the Great White Way either. Fox announced earlier this year that it's considering developing its own jukebox musicals (that is, shows using the songs of only one artist) for television—and the company has already approached a few pop artists it would like to work with. Fox has had varying degrees of success with its live performances of well-known musicals, like Rent (which aired in January to 3.4 million viewers) and Grease (their most-watched, with 12.2 million viewers in January 2016). Filming an already-written and time-tested musical for live television is a very different venture, of course, from creating one from near-scratch. But the network is no slouch when it comes to production value, at least. For example, Thomas Kail (the director of Hamilton on Broadway), stepped in as director of Fox's Grease: Live—which cost $16 million to make.
As tantalizing as this news is for hardcore Broadway and couch-potato fans alike, it looks like only time will tell if Netflix's and Fox's plans pan out—and snag enough viewers to stay viable.
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It's a cycle familiar to many: First, a striking image of a lithe, impossibly fit dancer executing a gravity-defying développé catches your eye on Instagram. You pause your scrolling to marvel, over and over again, at her textbook physique.
Inevitably, you take a moment to consider your own body, in comparison. Doubt and negative self-talk first creep, and then flood, in. "I'll never look like that," the voice inside your head whispers. You continue scrolling, but the image has done its dirty work—a gnawing sensation has taken hold, continually reminding you that your own body is inferior, less-than, unworthy.
It's no stretch to say that social media has a huge effect on body image. For dancers—most of whom already have a laser-focus on their appearance—the images they see on Instagram can seem to exacerbate ever-present issues. "Social media is just another trigger," says Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with the dancers of Atlanta Ballet. "And dancers don't need another trigger." In the age of Photoshop and filters, how can dancers keep body dysmorphia at bay?
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.