Live Theater to the Home Theater

Successive Thursday night offerings in December of live musicals to the home were as different as could be: The Wiz featured a big cast and attracted an audience of millions through its broadcast on NBC; Daddy Long Legs was performed by two actors and seen by thousands via the Internet. Yet it was Daddy that made history as the first off-Broadway show streamed live from New York.

I was able to catch The Wiz on my DVR days after Dorothy made it home. As for Daddy Long Legs, appointment television seemed so out-of-step in the digital age, and yet there I was seated in front of my big-screen TV and Apple TV having downloaded the Livestream app waiting for the onscreen timer to count down to 8 pm. To be sure, I also had downloaded the app to my iPad mini and pointed the browser on my PC to the Livestream site. Three screens had me covered.

According to Livestream, beside the iOS app, I also could have watched on an Android phone or tablet and a Roku set-top box. As it turned out, I was able to buffer and replay the live stream on my Windows computer, but the only control I had through my Apple TV was pause/play. The stream was smooth and glitch-free but the best resolution was 720p. I was disappointed that only my stereo speakers were supported. I would like to have heard the applause in the 149-seat Davenport Theatre emanating from my rear surround speakers.

Megan McGinnis as Jerusha and Adam Halpin as Jervis were backed by a piano, guitar, and cello. McGinnis, the star of the show, has a lovely singing voice. Halpin performed competently. The story about an orphan and her unseen benefactor to whom she writes letters is a two-hanky affair.

The big question for theatrical producers is whether streaming a live show can create sufficient promotional buzz to make up for the loss of selling seats to those watching at home.

Michaela's picture

Check out the surprising viewing statistics of the live stream direct from the producer's mouth: