Preserving a Show… What to Do?

Everyone is aware that there is a reality to the art of theatre unlike most other art forms. That reality is that theatre simply must end. All shows have an end and our community mourns the loss and moves on. We understand that a specific show will never be seen again, and that each night is a blessing to witness.

Now there are a few ways in which a show survives. Musicals if they are lucky receive an original cast recording, and the music of a show is saved. We may listen to the melodies that we so long to hear again, and the plot of a show told through its music survives. Another is through the libretto and written plays. Even if we may not get to see Zero Mostel in Fiddler on the Roof we can read and listen to it’s libretto, imagining we saw him.

Another way shows are preserved is in a controversial manner, the Broadway Bootleg. Broadway Bootleg’s and Bootlegger’s have a community within our niche that can be arguably harmful or beneficial. Those who may not be aware, a Broadway Bootleg is when a show is secretly recorded by someone in the audience and shared either online or through physical copies. These bootleg performances let us not only listen to great performers long since passed but also to see them in their prime.

However there is much debate over the ethics of recording Broadway shows, and in recent weeks the issue has been brought up on more than one occasion. Lin Manuel Miranda changed the lyrics during a performance of Hamilton in Puerto Rico recently in order to call out a person filming. Another incident took place within a week of this when Cassie Levy, called out an audience member on twitter after the show for filming the performance. Both scolded the audience members for their behavior and informed them of how distracting it can be for those on stage. These are just a few of many incidents where audience members have been caught filming by the performers in front of them.

There is a discussion about bootlegs and one of the strongest arguments in its favor tend to be about preservation of a piece. There are many who may not have the ability to travel to New York or a city where Broadway tours run. These people rely on bootlegs to see the shows they listen to for hours on repeat. These bootlegs keep alive some of the greatest performances of our generation for everyone to see. Please let us know your ideas on this issue and feelings about Broadway Bootlegs.

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