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Times Square NYC

Broadway Shows To Reopen This Year! 

Starting in this fall, the lights of Broadway will begin to flicker back on. First one show, then another, then a slew of Broadway performances are slated to reopen by the end of the year! 

The news can not come soon enough to the struggling entertainment industry both in New York and across the country. The closing due to the pandemic hit the industry hard as well as all of the associated businesses and vendors that rely on their presence in the Big Apple entertainment industry to keep their business thriving. 

street sign for Broadway

The Impact on New York City & Beyond

By the time Broadway begins to reopen in September 2021, the theaters along the Great White Way will have been closed for nearly 19 months. It’s been a long wait. 

Broadway is the core of New York City’s identity as a cultural and performance hub of the nation. The entertainment industry drives tourism in the region, helps sustain the economy, and employs thousands of actors, performers, crew, and show creators. Visitors from across the globe once flocked to the city to catch a show and enjoy a weekend of touring the bright lights of the city that never sleeps.

According to ABC News, “Prior to the pandemic, almost 250,000 people were seeing a Broadway show every week. Broadway supports nearly 97,000 local jobs and contributes about $14.7 billion every year to the New York City economy.”

Without the industry the culture, economy, and “feel” of New York has been a bit off. Thankfully, that is all about to change in just a couple of months. 

Not only was NY struggling but every major city that is home to Off-Broadway performances, community theater, and local theater groups. Most in the theater industry hope that the comeback is epic in that people feel confident in coming back to the shows and enjoying a sense of normalcy once again. 

spotlights

What Shows Are Opening This Year? 

While not all shows will be reopening as soon as this fall, many have already announced their opening nights through theater guides and online Broadway newsletters. 

For a full listing of specific dates and times of showings check out the New York City Theater Guide online

We can tell you that the first few shows that are making their comeback are: Hadestown, Chicago, Hamilton, Lion King, and Wicked. You will have your choice of musical perfection and finely choreographed pieces to enjoy soon enough. 

Staggered roll outs of other shows throughout the fall and winter months include other fan favorites like: Aladdin, Come From Away, Six, Moulin Rouge, Mrs. Doubtfire, Phantom of the Opera, and Dear Evan Hansen

In order to support these performances in NYC, “the Fiscal Year 2022 enacted budget included $1 billion in Small Business and Arts Relief and Recovery Assistance, which includes the New York City Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit Program that provides up to $100 million in tax credits to jumpstart the industry and revitalize tourism in New York City.” (ABC News) 

I know we have all been waiting so long and the light at the end of the tunnel is finally here. Tell us what shows you will be attending in the comments or on our social media platforms. 

 

spotlights

Spotlight on a Broadway Powerhouse – Susan Stroman 

During these months when the lights are dark on Broadway, it’s a good idea to remember how good it all once was and will be again someday soon. This month, we focus our spotlight on the incomparable Broadway powerhouse, Susan Stroman. 

Considered one of the brightest lights of the new millennium, Stroman is an innovative choreographer, director, and performer. Her accolades include being a 5 time Tony award winner and honored with Olivier, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel, and a record five Astaire Awards. She was also the director and choreographer for the Producers which was honored with a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards including Best Director and Best Choreography. There is really not much she doesn’t do, and does exceptionally well at all of it. 

Let’s explore her beginnings on the Great White Way and the shows that brought her such fame and awards. 

Susan Stroman
photo courtesy of Playbill

Who is Susan Stroman? 

Stroman began her journey to Broadway with her performances in a community theater in her hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. Her career in New York began with the show Contact, considered a “musical dance play” and the revival of the Music Man, a fan favorite about a fast talking salesman and con artist. In the spring of 2000, these two shows received resounding raves and got Stroman four Tony award nods for the two shows. 

young dancers

Stroman’s Broadway Credits 

Over the course of her amazing career, Stroman has a long list of shows and musicals to her credit. 

  • Crazy For You 
  • Prince of Broadway
  • Bullets Over Broadway
  • The Producers
  • Contact
  • Big Fish
  • Oklahoma!
  • Young Frankenstein 
  • Thou Shalt Not 
  • The Music Man
  • The Frogs
  • Show Boat
  • Big, Steel Pier

Her Off-Broadway credits include: 

  • The Beast in the Jungle
  • Dot 
  • Flora the Red Menace
  • And the World Goes ‘Round
  • Happiness
  • The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville

As if all of this is not enough, Stroman also put her love of choreography to work in creating ballets for New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Martha Graham. 

Due to all of these amazing works and her efforts throughout her illustrious career on Broadway, Stroman was the recipient of both the George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater and inducted as a member of the Theater Hall of Fame in New York City. 

If you would like to read more about Susan Stroman’s awards as well as her long list of credits check out Playbill’s list of Stroman’s accomplishments during her 66 years contributing to Broadway and the arts. 

mask

Theater is Still Alive Through Theater @ Home! 

Theaters across the country may be closed right now, but we know by studying history that theater has always made a comeback. After wars, floods, plagues, depressions, and acts of nature, theaters have been resilient. They have been the salve that soothes the wounds of our hardships. That being said, there are ways that theater can still be alive in your home that you may not even realize. 

airbnb app on phone

Airbnb Actor Experiences at Home

Join live, interactive performances and conversations from Broadway and beyond without even leaving your home. Keep the magic of Broadway alive by going behind the scenes with your favorite actors. Learn scenes, songs, & dances from your favorite shows and connect with people from the Actors Fund safely from your living room.

In this Airbnb Online Experiences series, talented actors, singers and dancers from Broadway, the West End and beyond, will offer audiences a glimpse into different aspects of their art form. Airbnb is collaborating with non-profit The Actors Fund to bring a touch of showbiz and the creative arts into your home. If you have always wanted to learn the Can-Can from Moulin Rouge then click on the link and get started today! 

Disney castle

Streaming Services 

If you are looking for more of a relaxing entertainment with less involvement from you, streaming your favorite Broadway, or Off-Broadway show may be the way to go. 

For instance, Disney+ is offering several hit musicals, now that Broadway has gone dark, to watch and enjoy at your leisure. Hamilton and Newsies: the Broadway Show are offered currently, with more to be added later. 

Other providers are offering similar deals. Netflix is offering Shrek, the Musical and Broadway HD is showing 42nd Street, Cats, Kinky Boots, An American In Paris, Oklahoma, Peter Pan, the King and I, Love Never Dies, Memphis, Miss Saigon, and Billy Elliot, the Musical. Keep in mind that some of these streaming services do require registrations and a monthly subscription but the number of showings continues to increase and the shows are fantastic. If you can swing the subscription and love Broadway, this may be the best thing to help you get through these months while Broadway recovers.

We will keep you updated on the latest offerings from streaming and other providers as we attempt to keep Broadway alive in our hearts and minds. Check back with our blog and on our Facebook to stay up-to-date on showtimes and features. 

 

marquee at off broadway theater

Impact of Coronavirus on Off Broadway

It’s been a rough few months for the people who make their livelihood in the theater and entertainment industry. Think for a minute how far the shutdown order’s ripple effect on the cities and towns that rely on theaters known as Off-Broadway has been. The impact has not only been one of financial hardship but also one that eats at our country’s mental and emotional health. 

It’s not just the streets of New York City and the famed “Great White Way” that finds itself in trouble during the shut down. Other major cities that host Off-Broadway theaters, smaller “Off-off” Broadway theaters, and even, community theaters are struggling with plans for the future. 

ripple in water

The Ripple Effect

Broadway and Off-Broadway productions are like an ecosystem. Although these theaters may be in different cities and draw upon a wide range of theatergoers, they are all intertwined with each other and with other industries that support the theaters. 

Take for example a shuttered theater in the heart of the theater district in Chicago. Not only will the actors and production crew lose their livelihoods, but also the vendors that count on that theater to have regular performances. Step out a little further and think of the hotels and restaurants in the vicinity of the theaters who are losing the clientele that they rely on due to the shows that are now shuttered. In short, the closing of theaters on and off Broadway have caused a ripple effect that is impacting thousands of people who work in and around the entertainment industry. 

piggy bank

Financial and Emotional Concerns

Obviously the shuttering of theaters across the country has huge ramifications on the financial wellbeing of the people who work in the industry. Beyond the financial hardship, comes the emotional hardship that this closing of theaters has caused. 

Theater, whether it is a play, musical, or for audience entertainment like Blue Man Group provides an outlet for millions of people every year. It is fun to get dressed up, go out to dinner, and be entertained for a few hours. It is an emotional release that Americans, and dare I say the whole world, needs right now. 

If you are a theater lover and you have a theater that you love, now is the time to give a gift. Support with a donation, pre-order tickets, or support a cause like the Actors Fund that is helping to financially support many who are currently out of work in the theater industry. 

 

Broadway NYC

The Day the Lights Went Dark on Broadway 

The novel Coronavirus has all of us reeling. From the hoarding of toilet paper, to learning how to work remotely, to understanding the importance of social distancing, we all have a lot to absorb. Normal everyday things become acts that could make us all vulnerable. Going to the store, hugging a friend, and doing our jobs, have all come to a grinding halt here and across the globe. 

Places that are symbols of hope and resiliency, like New York City’s Theater District, are going dark for the sake of “flattening the curve” and attempting to slow the spread of the virus. 

Times Square NYAs of March 12, 2020, Broadway’s theaters went dark with current plans to stay that way for a month or until the immediate threat has passed. 

The decision was made for several basic reasons. The industry faced restrictions on audience size and concern from actors and audiences about health risks during the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore the industry announced that shows will be shuttered through April 12. 

While the adage, “The show must go on,” is usually synonymous with the scrappy resiliency of the theater industry. Think about it. Broadway theater has remained open through the natural disasters, depression, wars, and many dark days in our collective history. Now, for the safety and well-being of its actors and theatergoers, it has taken the drastic step to shutter their doors. 

Broadway joins Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art as iconic NYC art institutions that have been temporarily closed due to the overwhelming scare of the coronavirus pandemic.

The New York Times interviewed Patti LuPone, a beloved Broadway titan who has won two Tony Awards and has been performing in previews for a revival of “Company.” Her take on this was one of shock and gratitude that the theaters were closed for the health of all involved. 

coronavirusWhile this drastic move will most assuredly costs millions to the industry and potentially cause the collapse of some shows and/or theaters, the move was one that was necessary not only due to the new restrictions enacted by Governor Cuomo, but also for the common sense reason of maintaining safe distance between theatergoers and actors/crew members. 

Regardless of the duration of the closings and how many theater companies will fare in the end, one thing is for certain – theater will survive this test. Patrons will need an outlet, a laugh, or to shed a tear when this virus has seen its course. While the show “can not go on” as planned right now, they will be back. 

 

How to Light a Scrim

Creating that bleed-through effect should only seem like magic to the audience.   However, lighting technicians need to wave their magic wands to create this seamless effect.  The best kind of scrim to use for bleed throughs is the Sharkstooth Scrim.  Sharkstooth is a flame retardant 100% cotton close-knit netting fabric. Consider Sharkstooth Scrim the invisibility cloak of the stage.

When Sharkstooth Scrim is lit from the front at an oblique angle and the area behind the scrim is dark, the scrim appears to be opaque. However, when the scene behind the scrim is illuminated it becomes “visible” and if the lights on the front of the scrim are removed, the scrim becomes virtually “invisible.”

Here’s a few tips to properly light a Sharkstooth Scrim.

First, any light behind the scrim will reflect on the scene that the scrim is trying to hide and allows the audience to see it.  For the scrim to be most effective, the area behind it must be completely dark.  Of course, the brighter the lighting on the scrim, the less likely that anyone will see a glimmer or gleam shining from behind the scrim.  Still, every effort should be made to keep the area behind the scrim completely dark until the reveal occurs.

Second, proper angle of the LIGHTING IS CRITICAL.  If the area is as dark as possible, but the scene is still visible through the lit scrim, then consider the angle of the lighting.  Ideally, the lighting on the scrim is at such a steep angle that it cannot possibly illuminate the scene behind it.  Also, when you touch a sharkstooth scrim, one side is fairly smooth and the other has more texture.  This does not affect the use of the scrim, but more texture gives the light extra surface area to touch and is slightly more visible to the audience.

Create an area of space between the scrim and any nearby scenery so that any light that spills through the scrim will not hit anything and won’t show to the audience.  The most common way to achieve this is to have strip lighting directly in front of the scrim’s top.  The majority of the light from the strips washes the front of the scrim and any excess light that shines through into the empty space between the scrim and the scenery is not visible.

Third, while not necessary, having blackout drapes behind the scrim will help hide the scenery behind it.  If you have extra batons and a spare blackout drape, you can ensure that the audience will not see the hidden scenery by hanging the drape about a foot behind the scrim at the upstage edge and flying it out moments before the bleed-through.  You will still need to control the spill upstage or the blackout drop will be visible, most particularly as it flies just before the bleed-through begins.

While having the proper lighting angles is paramount, knowing how NOT to light the scrim is useful too.  Lighting from the front will certainly light the scrim, but it will also light everything behind the scrim as well. This is because the sharkstooth scrim is essentially a series of holes tied together. When lit from the front, the holes will let the lighting continue upstage and illuminate everything behind the scrim. Lighting from a balcony is also not an ideal position, as it may provide the maximum visibility of the scrim and the images behind it, for those who are sitting in the orchestra.

Equally important in making the scrim work is effectively lighting the scene behind the scrim.  If you want the scrim to disappear when the dissolve is complete, the lighting for the scene to be exposed must all come from behind the scrim.  Any lighting in front of the scrim may show the upstage scene, but will also continue to illuminate the scrim and any scenery painted on it.  While this may be the desired effect that you are looking to achieve, for the scrim to disappear, it cannot be lit.  The scene lighting should come upstage of the scrim or from side positions that are upstage from the scrim.

Types of Theatrical Scrims

Sharkstooth Scrim is an open weave net, meaning that there is more open space than actual fabric. Sharkstooth Scrim is primarily used to achieve the “bleed through” effect; magically revealing items upstage of the scrim. When lit properly, Sharkstooth Scrim can appear either opaque or transparent. These effects are then used to perform conceals and reveals. Sharkstooth Scrim can also be used to create the illusion of distance. It is considered the best option as an all purpose scrim.

Bobbinettes have a more open weave than Sharkstooth Scrim. Often used in combination with Sharkstooth scrims in front of rear projection screens to reduce glare and increase contrast. Various weaves give designers a range of light transmission values to create depth and add a soft, hazy look to images.

 

 

Leno or leno-filled scrim can be described as “sharkstooth scrim with the holes filled in.” Leno has a lovely soft, textured surface that reflects light beautifully, thus making it ideal for a cyclorama or a bounce drop. Like the sharkstooth scrim, it has one surface that is more textured and one that is smoother; in general, the textured side should face  the audience to take advantage of the extra surface dimension. Leno-filled scrims are also ideal for projecting abstract shapes and patterns, due to their highly reflective surface. The texture, however, will mitigate high resolutions, and so leno is not the best surface for video projection.

What Are the Longest Running Broadway Shows? 

If you are a theater lover then you probably have a mental list of your favorite shows that includes when you saw them, and where. Shows can stay with us for a long time and leave a lasting impression on our lives. But what are those shows, especially the performances that lasted the longest on Broadway? 

In order to make it to Broadway, a show must prove itself. There is no “one” surefire way to make it to the Great White Way, but many start off as Off-Broadway productions, in Summer Theaters, or as part of a Workshop. Once a show makes it on to the famed street, there is no guarantee that it will last. That’s why it is amazing the number of shows that have stood the test of time in Broadway Theaters. 

Broadway theaterPhantom of the Opera 

One of our favorite shows that has lasted over two decades is Phantom of the Opera. It has run for well over twelve thousand shows. The classic tale that was first a novel by Gaston Leroux is also known for the genius songwriting of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Phantom is still running and continues to entertain countless New York residents and visitors and will for years to come.

Chicago 

This show has been trying to move into the number one spot held by Phantom for years. First opening at the 46th Street Theatre, the first Broadway production of Chicago opened in June of 1975. It has since seen a revival which took place in 1996. It opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, and this production instantly received much more critical acclaim than the original production. Currently, Chicago’s revival holds the title of longest running revival on Broadway. 

Chicago Musical

The Lion King 

This show first made its appearance in Minneapolis in the fall of 1997 at the New Amsterdam Theatre. The Disney adaptation from the film has since moved to NYC and sits on the list of highest-grossing at the box office. The combination of Elton John’s musical hits and the original costume designs make this one of the longest running shows at 7,883 performances and counting. 

Cats 

This feline-centered performance once held the spot as London’s longest-running musical until Les Misérables took its place in 2006. Cats has actually seen a revival, just like other popular shows that have made their way back to the stage. The original production saw 6,138 shows over the course of 18 years and closed in 2000. Recently the musical has seen a massive revival that is still running today and continues to break records at the box office, recently pulling in more than a million dollars in just a week.

What is your favorite long-running Broadway musical? We love so many but would love to hear about yours! Drop us a line in the comments or on our Facebook page

 

The Impact of Lighting Design 

Think of the last time you walked into a theater. Do you remember the initial feeling you had when the curtain rose? Were you tense, happy, scared, excited, or relaxed? Believe it or not, the lighting probably set the tone for the remainder of the theater experience you had. In fact, psychological studies have shown us that color and lighting has a huge impact on our mood and overall well-being and that lighting experts have been using this knowledge for years to enhance our theater experience. Let’s take a closer look at the impact of lighting design. 

At any given moment our senses are collecting hundreds of pieces of information about our environment. The colors, smells, sights, temperature, feel, and so many more components go into how we interact with or feel about the world around us. The same goes for our experiences in the theater. 

Imagine you walk into a theater where there are dark shadows that cover the stage, shabby furnishings scattered around, and actors that are dressed in ragged clothing. Your initial impression may be one of concern, fear, or curiosity. Imagine the same theater, this time with bright lighting, colorful backgrounds, and actors who are singing happily. Your sensory input has dramatically changed, right? That is how the theater can use colors and light to change how theatergoers experience the show. 

Direction of Light 

One aspect that lighting design experts have to consider when setting a mood on a stage is the direction of the light. For example, if the lighting team is trying to create a scene with tension they may want direct light from above to shine on the main action on the stage while darkening the rest of the area. Another example would be creating low or dim lighting to add a sense of mystery, privacy, or intimacy. Lighting the walls, ceiling, and props can give a sense of spaciousness as well as direct your attention to the portion of the stage where the action is the greatest. 

The Type of Lighting 

Theatergoers know that the lighting team can create all sorts of emotions depending upon the type of light they use. For example, a spotlight can draw your attention right to the main action during a monologue to important action that is occurring on stage. Colored filters can be used with this lamp to change the overall mood as well. 

A floodlight gives a wide area where action can occur on the stage. A strobe is a flashing light, that is used for special effects. It’s often used to give the effect of old movies. It produces a jerky effect on the movements of actors when used on its own.

Lights can be useful for defining different locations on the stage, creating mood and atmosphere, highlighting key moments of action, and directing the audience’s focus. Lighting can denote the time of year or day and can also be used in an abstract or symbolic way, such as using a red light to symbolize danger or passion. How does your theater use lighting? Give us some tips in the comments. 

 

It’s UDMA Trade Show Season

The end of summer not only brings a new school year for dance studios, but it also begins the dance trade show season.  We will be attending UDMA, United Dance Merchants of America, trade show in Edison NJ on the weekend of October 19-20.  UDMA has three other dates as well.  They are in Atlanta this weekend (9/28-29), Pittsburgh 10/5-6 (next weekend), and Chicago 10/12-13.  Here’s a link to their website:  https://www.udma.org/

 

The show features merchants who cover all aspects of the dance industry.  Some of the categories that are present are costume companies, dancewear, shoes, flowers, videographers, photographers, tours, flooring, dance opportunities, trophies, competitions and conventions, recital ticketing, publications, and backdrops too, of course!  Anything you can think of that has to do with the dance industry will be at these shows. Not only are there vendor exhibits but there are also presentations, give aways, and seminars.

 

It really is a great opportunity to check out new technology and new products.  The costume companies typically have live models wearing their latest costume designs so that you can see the new fashions in living, moving color.  We have an actual backdrop in our booth so that customers can see and feel what our product is like.  Each vendor will have real examples of their product so that you will know exactly what you’ll be getting.  There is no doubt that you can improve your business and productions by attending one of these shows.  We hope to see you in New Jersey for sure, but we hope that you can make it to one of the shows.