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Open discussion: has YouTube improved the quality of live musical theater performance worldwide?
Posted by: GrumpyMorningBoy 11:56 am EDT 03/17/20

I'd argue that it has.

In the early days of YouTube, many videos that users uploaded were illegally filmed bootlegs which had only been available if you had a friend who had a friend who made a copy of CARRIE or that black and white A CHORUS LINE or what have you. A lot of stuff got taken down -- fairly -- under copyright claims.

But in time, shows began to realize that releasing entire numbers, rehearsal videos, backstage stories, and more were incredible marketing tools.

And colleges, universities, high schools, and community theaters were free to post their own videos -- providing that nothing was for profit.

This all really began to take off in the early 2010's, just as "Glee" was re-invigorating the coolness factor for musical theater kids.

Suddenly, high schools could easily get their hands on a step-by-step visual of the original choreography and staging for countless shows. Set designers from rival high schools or colleges could say, "well, if THEY could do that, WE can do THIS." A kind of one-upsmanship emerged. Or, at the very least, a mutual appreciation society.

And as more and more Broadway performers put their own original material online, whether that was YouTube musical channels like "The Battery's Down" or videoed recording sessions from cast recordings, a whole lot of members of the broader musical theater community could simply see how it's done.

I don't want to assign credit where it isn't due. High quality instruction in musical theater performance is also sweeping the nation -- and the world -- with more and more great performing arts high schools and college musical theater programs leading the edge.

But I do think that something is notable. We are getting further and further away from cheesy, show-bizzy, jazz-handsy, presentational musical theater performance and much closer to a mature, grounded in acting, naturalistic performance style that's impacting the art form at every level from amateur on up. And I think YouTube is partially to thank.

For very easy evidence, glob onto the #SunshineSongs hashtag that Laura Benanti started over the weekend. It's all over the internet, and beyond being awfully inspiring for the moment we're in, it's a perfect example of how amateur musical theater performance is leaps and bounds beyond where it was in the 1900's.

Agree or disagree?

- GMB
Link Good Morning America: Laura Benanti talks about the overwhelming response to 'Sunshine Songs'
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Previous: 'His songs are like a fabulous steak': an all-star toast to Stephen Sondheim - young-walsingham 01:58 pm EDT 03/17/20
Next: re: Open discussion: has YouTube improved the quality of live musical theater performance worldwide? - Singapore/Fling 06:39 pm EDT 03/17/20
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