I didn’t find the online theater community until about three or four years ago (discovering Aaron Tveit through Les Mis may’ve been a huge catalyst), and when I saw The Heiress on Broadway in early 2013, I had just found out that meeting the cast at the stage door was a thing. I then went three and a half years without seeing a Broadway show, familiarizing myself and falling in love with this world from afar. I don’t know anything about acting and singing technicalities, but I believe that simply keeping up on community news and learning about people’s careers gave me pretty resourceful knowledge of Broadway history.
Now with a greater appreciation and love for what these creators, actors, and musicians do on a daily basis, I would get frustrated about not being able to see shows because of time, price, or (when I was away at school) location. Episodes of Show People and press footage of shows had to suffice – and I know I can’t complain, having been able to see a good amount of shows at pretty young ages. Think about it as the equivalent to the kids’ table at a family event – once you hit a certain age, you know the real goods are at the grown-ups’ table, and it’s so close, yet so far.
But then, back in June, some stars magically began to align.
My sister watched the entirety of the Tony Awards with me, filling herself in on what shows were around.
I have a paying internship, allowing me to splurge on some things I normally only dream about.
To top it all off, Bright Star, a modest little musical scheduled to close in a a week, was something both my sister and I were interested in seeing.
My sister graduated high school this year, so as an unofficial gift for her, I bought the two of us tickets to see Bright Star on June 21. We ended up in the balcony surrounded by intense theater fans, an apparent Twitter celebrity the theater groupies recognized, and even Christina Bianco, the YouTube singing impressions lady!
I had forgotten how powerful being in the presence of live theater can be. There’s something about watching comedic bits right in front of you that makes things a lot funnier than if you watched it on screen. While the storyline was pretty predictable, I loved the show’s staging. It remained very minimalist, with only the rafters of a house (in which the band played in period costumes) dominant on stage.
It left much up to the imagination – for instance, I loved how in the number “Asheville,” an ensemble member moved in time to the scene’s lead male actor to act out going back in time and freezing in place while his love interest sang to him. Carmen Cusack’s character’s transition to her sixteen-year-old self (seen here in a pre-Broadway venue, so the staging is a little different) is an incredible to introduce a flashback on stage while still in constant motion.
Bright Star had a relatively short life on Broadway, but everyone at our performance loved it, and comments I found online seemed to reflect the same feelings. At the end of the day, money and star appeal is huge in maintaining a Broadway show, but this season had such big shows and strong talents that it’s easy for quieter shows to be passed over. Sometimes this isn’t exactly the case – Once, anyone? – and small shows are often marveled over for being so fresh yet classic.
A recent example of this was the revival She Loves Me, which I got to watch through BroadwayHD’s live stream performance. Like many others, I think it’s incredible that this industry is slowly working towards providing an affordable Broadway experience to those who are not able to attend a show. It makes total sense that a closing revival was selected for this feature, but for the future, maybe a show could be filmed for a live stream once it receives a closing notice? Given that so many long-running shows are closing in the next few months, that system could alleviate stress of someone torn between seeing two closing shows.
What about you? Have you seen any Broadway shows or shows on tour? How do you feel about live streams of shows? Also, check out the video below of the Bright Star cast performing at the Tonys – just cuz more people need to see how great this show is.