Broadway expands its stage with movie theater shows

Mon Apr 25, 2011 2:36pm EDT
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By Frank Scheck

NEW YORK (Reuters) - If you can't come to Broadway, Broadway is going to come to you.

That's the philosophy behind the upcoming nationwide movie theater showings of two current Broadway shows -- Tony Award-winning musical "Memphis," and "The Importance of Being Earnest," the Roundabout Theater Company's acclaimed revival of the Oscar Wilde classic play starring British actor Brian Bedford.

Although the concept has been around for a while, it has taken off in recent years thanks to the number of movie theaters equipped to show high-definition video and keen for alternative content.

Following the success of broadcasts of the London National Theatre's "NT Live" and the Metropolitan Opera's "Live in HD," the new offerings mark the first time that Broadway shows will be made available in movie theaters while still enjoying successful theatrical runs.

"Memphis" producers Sue Frost and Randy Adams are unconcerned about the possibility of the broadcasts cannibalizing ticket sales for either the Broadway production or the upcoming national tour.

"We thought it would be a great marketing tool, particularly for the road, and we were enamored of the idea of capturing the original company," Frost told Reuters.

Adams pointed to the success of Hollywood versions of stage shows like "Chicago" and "Phantom of the Opera."

"It didn't hurt those (theater) sales at all. If anything, it revitalized them. These days, people tend to go to what's familiar. So I think the more familiar people are with 'Memphis' and its brand, they more likely they are to actually attend the show," he said.   Continued...