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Filmed Stage Production

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One hundred and fifty-two minutes, how do you measure a play filmed for screen?
Theatre is a fleeting medium, one that's quite difficult to preserve. Just because you can read a script doesn't mean you can ever recapture the experience of seeing the show live. What if you don't have the time or money to see a show when it's out, or you can't travel to the one location where it's being performed?

Some productions, especially those in high demand, amend the accessibility issue by filming a stage production for publication, known within the industry as a "proshot." Viewing a proshot is a different experience from viewing a live production. The play may be filmed on different days, then seamlessly edited together as if it was one consistent performance. Multiple camera angles can focus more clearly on the onstage action, and get close-ups of actors to better sell the emotion on camera. Releasing a proshot is a good way to generate interest in a show, as even those who see the recording may still want to experience the show live. This can attract new fans even after the original production has closed. The taped production may even be submitted for consideration to an awards program such as the Emmys or Oscars, despite not technically being written for that medium.

In Japan, these are very common. Theatrical productions tend to be set for short runs, which enables more niche productions to get made at all. The final performance is often filmed for bluray release. This is especially true with 2.5D theatre productions, based on anime and games, which often develop into long series. Non-Japanese musicals, such as Elisabeth, also get a lot of Japanese proshots.

The film may be released on home video, broadcast on television, or streamed online. PBS often airs proshots as part of their Great Performances series, many of which have been released on DVD as part of the Broadway Theatre Archive. Streaming websites such as BroadwayHD have popped up to catalogue filmed stage productions. One trend that peaked in the mid-2010's with The Sound of Music Live! on NBC is televised "live" productions, where a play is performed live for one day on a soundstage, solely for a television event.

Compare The Film of the Play, for when the play is adapted into a film, not filmed onstage. See also Screen-to-Stage Adaptation.

Please only list official, publicly-released filmed productions, not bootlegs. Additionally, a play being preserved in the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive does not qualify for this trope, as that is specifically for researchers, not released to the general public.

Examples filmed directly from the stage:

  • The 2017-2018 revival of Angels in America starring Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane was filmed and broadcast in movie theatres as well as made available for streaming on the National Theatre Live app.
  • Au théatre ce soir was a French show dedicated to filmed stage productions, initially aired from 1966 to 1986. Those can still be viewed thanks to home video rereleases.
  • The West End production of Billy Elliot received a recording for theaters and home release in 2014.
  • A staging of Cats at the Adelphi Theatre in London was filmed and released on video in 1997. It eventually aired on public television as well, so parts of the show were cut to fit the runtime of a television broadcast.
  • The original 2023 production of Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto was recorded for bluray. Both casts' performances were recorded.
  • Katharine Cornell was called "The First Lady of Theater" and was one of the biggest stars on Broadway for some 30 years from the 1920s to the 1950s. She never made a movie, but she did appear in two television productions near the end of her career, in The Barretts of Wimpole Street and There Shall Be No Night.
  • After scrapping a planned film adaptation due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, a filmed production of Come from Away was posted on Apple TV+ on September 11, 2021, the twentieth anniversary of the Twin Tower attacks.
  • Company (Sondheim):
    • The 1995 London revival was taped for BBC Two in 1997.
    • The 2006 Broadway production was broadcast as part of PBS's Great Performances in 2007.
    • A concert version of the show was filmed at the New York Philharmonic in 2011, with Neil Patrick Harris as Robert, Stephen Colbert as Harry, and Patti LuPone as Joanne.
  • The 2000 Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman starring Brian Dennehy was filmed and broadcast on Showtime.
  • Diana: The Musical, the musical about Diana, Princess of Wales, was released on Netflix while still playing on Broadway.
  • Elisabeth has had several proshots in various languages. The most notable ones are:
    • Vienna 1992 (starring Pia Douwes and Uwe Kröger; this is a dress rehearsal rather than an actual performance)
    • Vienna 2005 (starring Maya Hakvoort and Máté Kamarás)
    • Essen 2002 (starring Pia Douwes and Uwe Kröger; a recording of Pia's last performance in this production)
    • Budapest 2004 (starring Kata Janza and Szilveszter Szabó)
    • The many Takarazuka Revue versions (as of 2022 there have been ten, not including concert versions)
    • Toho 2016 (two different performances, one starring Mari Hanafusa and Yuu Shirota and the other starring Mari Hanafusa and Yoshio Inoue)
    • Toho 2023 (also two casts)
  • Hamilton: An official recording of the show released on Disney+ in July of 2020, consisting of three 2016 performances featuring the original cast edited into one production.
  • Heathers: A live capture of the West End production was released on The Roku Channel in 2022.
  • Identity V released blurays of all three episodes, as is standard in Japan. Each release also contains several performances. Episodes 1 and 3 had a Survivors' Side and a Hunters' side, and a special comedy performance for both sides, meaning the discs have four whole performances. On top of that, episode 2 featured three sides, each focusing on different Hunter-Survivor pair. Each pair also had a comedy performance, and there was a separate, even more special "Grand Cards Competition" comedy performance that was also filmed, so the bluray set contains seven whole plays.
  • Into the Woods:
    • The entire original cast (barring Jean Kelly) reunited for three days in 1989 to perform a taped production as part of PBS's American Playhouse. The film utilized seven cameras to tape the show at multiple angles, and some pick-up shots were filmed without an audience. This recording was available on VHS and DVD.
    • A 1991 production aired on PBS's American Playhouse.
    • The 2010 Regents Park Open Air production was filmed and is available on BroadwayHD.
  • The Japan Foundation's Stage Beyond Borders project streams many proshots from Japan, with subtitles in English and other languages. While there are many "high-brow" productions, both traditional and avant-garde, the channel has hosted musicals, and even a ''Musical Touken Ranbu' production.
  • Jekyll & Hyde was filmed on Broadway in 2000 with David Hasselhoff playing the title role, released on DVD in 2001 under the title Jekyll & Hyde: Direct from Broadway.
  • Kiss Me, Kate:
    • A 1958 production was filmed for the Hallmark Hall of Fame television anthology program.
    • A 1964 production was filmed for the launch of the UK channel BBC Two.
    • A 2003 production of the London revival aired in high-definition as part of PBS's Great Performances.
  • Both of the Latibær plays that LazyTown was based on, Áfram Latibær! and Glanni Glæpur Í Latabæ, were released on VHS.
  • The Broadway production of Legally Blonde was filmed for MTV. The premiere included behind-the-scenes cast interviews and onscreen lyrics during the musical numbers so the viewers could sing along.
  • PBS's Live from Lincoln Center has featured several shows including:
  • Live on Stage! shows sometimes get these, too:
    • This trope is very prominent with UK-based children's shows. Shows based on such properties as Bob the Builder, Tweenies, Fireman Sam and the Noddy franchise have received home video releases of stage productions.
    • A taped performance of PAW Patrol: Race To The Rescue! was released on Paramount+ in response to the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling in-person performances of the show.
    • Bear in the Big Blue House Live! Surprise Party got a home video release.
    • My Little Pony Live! The World's Biggest Tea Party got a professional recording of it released to DVD. Prior to the DVD release, it also played in select movie theaters as part of Kidtoon Films.
    • Several Barney & Friends stage shows have seen home video releases.
    • For VeggieTales, the first live show and Sing Yourself Silly got releases, with the former being hard to find as the tape was only sold at the show itself.
    • In Japan, this is pretty much standard practice for shows based on NHK kids' shows such as Okaasan to Issho, Inai Inai Baa! and Miitsuketa!. In some cases, these filmed shows have even been broadcast on television, usually in the shows' regular timeslots.
  • Marat/Sade: A film adaptation was made in 1967 with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • A recorded version of Memphis was released on Netflix in 2011, featuring the original cast members.
  • Les Misérables: There have been a few anniversary concert stagings over the years of its historic run pulling in original cast members and popular replacement actors, either reprising their roles or playing new ones:
    • Les Miserables: The Dream Cast in Concert aired in 1995 for the 10th anniversary, with Colm Wilkinson returning as Valjean, Judy Kuhn returning as Cosette, and Lea Salonga playing Eponine.
    • Les Miserables in Concert: The 25th Anniversary aired in 2010, with Alfie Boe as Valjean, Lea Salonga now playing Fantine, Samantha Barks playing Eponine (who would go on to reprise the role in the 2012 film adaptation), and Nick Jonas (one of the many Broadway Gavroche replacements) playing Marius.
    • Les Miserables: The Staged Concert filmed the final concert of the 2019 concert staging (which ran from August 10-December 2, 2019 to accommodate the restoration of the Sondheim Theatre). It starred original Marius Michael Ball as Javert and Carrie Hope Fletcher as Fantine. Alfie Boe returned as Valjean.
    • Les Miz is possibly the only musical more popular in Japan than Elisabeth, but as of 2023, it has not yet received a Japanese proshot.
  • The 25th Anniversary gala performance of Miss Saigon was filmed for release in movie theaters and has since been made available on home video and streaming (through Broadway HD).
  • Mozart!:
    • The 2015 Vienna revival was filmed and released on DVD.
    • 2015 Toho production.
  • The Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of Mr. Saturday Night had one of its final performances on Broadway filmed for release on Broadway HD.
  • The original touring production of the jukebox musical Never Forget was filmed during press night at the Manchester Opera House and released on DVD.
  • The musical version of Newsies was filmed for a limited theatrical release in 2017, and was later made available on Disney+.
  • The Broadway performance of Oh, Hello was filmed for Netflix and released in 2017.
  • The 1998 West End revival of Oklahoma! starring Hugh Jackman was filmed for television and video release. The filmed version combines footage recorded at actual performances with footage filmed in special sessions without an audience to capture close-ups and other camera angles that would be impractical to capture live.
  • A recording of Our House was televised on BBC Three in December 2003 and released on DVD in November of the following year.
  • Our Town:
    • A 1988 Lincoln Center Theatre production of Our Town was recorded and shown on Great Performances. The cast included Spalding Gray as the Stage Manager, Penelope Ann Miller as Emily, and Eric Stoltz as George.
    • The 2003 Broadway revival of Our Town starring Paul Newman as the Stage Manager was filmed for broadcast on PBS and Showtime.
  • The first full-length Broadway production to be televised in full color was a 1955 showing of the Peter Pan musical, which aired on the anthology Producers' Showcase. It was restaged to be filmed again six years later with a slightly altered cast; this version aired several times, including on NBC in 1989 and on Disney Channel in 1991. It was released on VHS in 1990 and on DVD in 1999.
  • The Phantom of the Opera: The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall cut together footage of the October 1 , 2011 evening performance and the October 2, 2011 matinee and evening performances of the Royal Albert Hall concert staging to mark the 25th anniversary of the original stage musical. It starred Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom and Sierra Boggess as Christine, who had originated the roles of their older counterparts in the infamous 2010 sequel, Love Never Dies.
  • Pippin was filmed for Canadian television in 1981, with Ben Vereen reprising his role as the Leading Player. "I Guess I'll Miss the Man" was cut for runtime.
  • The Essgee Entertainment production of The Pirates of Penzance was recorded on video and released for VHS in 1994. A DVD version came out in 2006.
  • The 2023 Broadway revival of Purlie Victorious was filmed for PBS's Great Performances, with a premiere set for May 24, 2024.
  • The 1999 Broadway production of Putting It Together was filmed for a DVD called Putting it Together: Direct from Broadway. It includes a blooper of Carol Burnett's skirt falling down during the second act opening.
  • RENT — Sony Pictures filmed and released the final Broadway performancenote  of in 2008, even giving the recording a limited theatrical release — one of the first Broadway shows to do so in North America. The DVD includes bonus features exploring the closing night celebration and the show's legacy.
  • Rocky Horror Show Live was recorded in London and broadcast to cinemas throughout Britain and Europe. It never got a DVD release but can be watched on YouTube.
  • The 1977 Broadway revival of William Gillette's Secret Service was filmed for PBS's Great Performances and was later released on home video as part of the Broadway Theatre Archive. This production starred John Lithgow and Meryl Streep (the TV broadcast was her very first screen appearance)
  • A 1977 revival of William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes starring Frank Langella was filmed and broadcast on HBO as part of the anthology series Standing Room Only in 1981.
  • Shrek: The Musical was made available on DVD in 2013, and has occasionally been available to stream on Netflix.
  • Toho's Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of Spirited Away was livestreamed on Hulu Japan, and was later released on-demand through several Japanese platforms. There are two filmed performances since the play had a double cast, as is typical with Japanese stage productions. Both proshots were presented in North American theaters in the spring of 2023. A DVD/Blu-ray (featuring performances of both casts) was later released.
  • A production of The SpongeBob Musical with most of the original cast was filmed to air on Nickelodeon during the time the production was touring, and later made available on Amazon Prime. However, the staging was condensed and some moments from the original show were removed, such as Plankton and Karen's Big Damn Kiss.
  • Sunday in the Park with George's original production was filmed shortly after it closed in 1985 and broadcast the next year on Broadway on Showtime and American Playhouse.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has been officially recorded numerous times.
    • The first national tour, with George Hearn as Sweeney, was taped in Los Angeles in 1981. It aired on The Entertainment Channel the next year and was then released on VHS and DVD.
    • BBC broadcast the Royal National Theatre revival production in July 1994, the Opera North production in March 1998, and the Royal Opera House production in 2003.
    • A concert version of the show was filmed in San Francisco in 2001 and aired on PBS before getting a video and DVD release.
    • The 2012 Lincoln Center concert, starring opera singer Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson, was filmed.
  • Almost every Takarazuka Revue show is filmed and released on DVD. Sometimes more than one performance is filmed during a show's run.
  • Nearly all Team StarKid plays are filmed and posted for free on the company's YouTube channel. In some cases, such as with Black Friday, fans can pay for early access to the recording.
  • Tin Can Brothers, in the spirit of Team Starkid, has released filmed performances of their plays, Spies Are Forever and The Solve-It Squad Returns!, for free on Youtube.
  • While all stage Touken Ranbu series have their own separate stage recording, Touken Ranbu Stage had its first play, Kyouden: Honnouji Ablaze, recorded again for theatrical release in November 2021.
  • In 2023 a UK production of Titanic was filmed for theatrical release. The production will be available for streaming on Broadway HD with a home video release also planned.
  • Tsukiuta and its many spinoff series (over 35 plays) all have their final performances recorded for bluray releases. The discs also tend to feature a separate fixed-camera recording that may or may not be the same performance. Add to that the fact that the plays are often done in two different versions — a Six Gravity side and a Procellarum side, or a Solids side and a Quell side, etc. for the two main units of each series — and you end up getting four whole performances, plus hours of backstage bonus footage, in each box set.
  • The 1995 Broadway opening performance of Victor/Victoria was filmed and broadcast on the Japanese channel NHK two months later.

Live TV production examples:

  • NBC aired a live version of Annie in 2021.
  • The musical adaptation of A Christmas Story, which had previously run on Broadway in 2012, was performed as a live event on Fox in 2017. Three songs, including a short Bebe Rexha music video that played before the musical proper, were added to the television version.
  • This was done with Cinderella (Rodgers and Hammerstein) in the 1950's, with Julie Andrews as the title role.
  • In 2016, Fox aired a live production of Grease, modeled after the live musical productions that had succeeded oN NBC. It blended elements from both the original musical and the more popular film adaptation, and incorporated a live audience to capture the essence of a live theatrical performance.
  • NBC filmed a live production of Hairspray in 2016. Harvey Fierstein reprised his role as Edna Turnblad.
  • Jesus Christ Superstar, (NBC) on Easter Sunday 2018, starring John Legend as the title character. It won several Emmy awards, and cinched the EGOT for Legend, Tim Rice, and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
  • A production of Our Town was aired live on the TV series Producer's Showcase, with Frank Sinatra as the Stage Manager, Paul Newman as George Gibbs, and Eva Marie Saint as Emily Webb. Notably (and appropriately for a production featuring Sinatra) several songs were added to the show for the Stage Manager to perform, including "Love and Marriage", which became a Sinatra standard (as well as the theme song to Married... with Children).
  • RENT in 2019 (Fox), with Jordan Fisher as Mark and Brennin Hunt as Roger. However, Hunt suffered a last-minute injury that bound him to a wheelchair, so the production was a mix of dress rehearsal footage and live footage with limited staging to accommodate Hunt. Several lyrics were also censored to comply with network standards.
  • The Wiz in 2015 (NBC).