Among other social sins, in high school I was a bandie. In both marching band and concert band, I played the tuba. I'd played both trumpet and baritone during junior high, and returned to the trumpet to play in the jazz band at college. Over twenty five years later, I started playing in a community band, and after a couple of years I changed instruments again, taking up the French horn. I still play now, in a local college's joint student/community band.
In addition, I as in two musicals in high school, and to this day I enjoy musical theater. This past week, I saw a post on Facebook, a defense of the bootleg video recordings that pop up on the Internet of popular Broadway shows. I have mixed feelings about this.
On the one hand, I know I am likely to never, ever see a show on Broadway. I live 5 hours from New York City (not far when you consider that people travel from all over the country to see these shows) and I don't like big cities very much. I have traveled to Toronto once for a stage show, over 20 years ago, but I'm not likely to do so again. And to be honest, the high ticket prices do put me off. It would be nice to see these shows as they are intended to be seen - with the full staging. The traveling shows are limited in their staging because they have to be repeatedly set up and broken down.
On the other hand, I recognize that the writers, composers, producers, performers, musicians, stagehands and countless others whose work goes into staging these shows deserve to make a living. A good living, to be honest, because these are all people who have invested great amounts of time and effort to get where they are in a very competitive business. Bootleg videos amount to giving their work away for free, without their consent.
Is there a compromise? I thought so. Some years back, officially licensed videos of some stage shows were released. The first ones that came out of some of Andrew Lloyd Weber's shows, such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cats and Jesus Christ Superstar were great, because they were recordings of the stage show, with minimal modification to the staging. They only changed it enough to accommodate getting cameras in to film from different angles. Then came Evita and Phantom of the Opera - full blown movie musicals based on the plays. Not that I object to such movies, that's where I had my original exposure to "classic" musicals such as My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The Music Man. But I'd really like to see the stage versions, too.
Is it too much to hope someone might try recording and releasing (for sale) more musicals in the future?