Stageflix: 4 Musical Theatre Documentaries for Every Broadway Enthusiast
While pursuing my undergraduate career, I was fortunate enough to have found a program that combined my two greatest passions, theatre and film, into one harmonious degree. I graduated with a solid understanding of how both platforms function culturally, socially and artistically. Now that I am no longer a student, I often feel torn between the two when it comes to building my career. However, when the two mediums come together and unite, I’m reminded that there is room for both. Case in point: Documentaries.
I’ve been hooked on documentaries ever since I took a seminar on the genre, and I found my niche when I discovered the vast selection of documentaries framed around theatre. They provided a way not only to enjoy my two favourite forms of art but also to connect with the culture of Broadway right from the comfort of my own home.
So without further ado, I would like to share a list of the best documentaries that take you behind the scenes of all the drama that happens before the curtain rises.
Every Little Step (2008) – Dir. Adam Del Deo, James D. Stern (Running Time: 96 min.)
If you love musicals and you have not seen this documentary, I advise you to drop everything (yes, even this article) and grab yourself a copy. Every Little Step takes you behind the casting process of the 2008 revival of A Chorus Line, and it is chock full of interviews with the original cast and footage of the early workshops and auditions.
Show Business: The Road to Broadway (2007) – Dir. Dori Bernstein (Running Time: 102 Min.)
Show Business is like a buffet. You get to sample the challenges and joys of mounting a Broadway musical from the perspective of four different productions (Wicked, Avenue Q, Taboo and Caroline, or Change) all in one neatly packaged doc. Show Business does a good job of capturing the challenges of working on Broadway, from pre-production until the 2004 Tony Awards, while also highlighting the glitz and glamour.
The Standbys (2012) – Dir. Stephanie Riggs (Running Time: 76 Min.)
The Standbys is framed around the unsung heroes of every Broadway production: the standbys and understudies. With cameos from former understudies Sutton Foster, Jonathan Groff, Cheyenne Jackson and Bebe Neuwirth, the film shines a spotlight on the hopes and dreams of those who are waiting in the wings.
Broadway Idiot (2013) – Dir. Doug Hamilton (Running Time: 80 Min.)
The newest doc on the list, Broadway Idiot gives viewers a glimpse into Green Day’s journey of bringing American Idiot from the studio to the stage. Broadway Idiot captures all the nerves and excitement of staging a punk rock musical.
What are some of your favourite musical theatre docs? Share them in the comments below, as we would love to hear about them! And if you still need your fix of backstage action, here are some suggested docs that are not musical theatre related but still capture the high stakes and excitement of the performing arts:
- Fame High
- Mad Hot Ballroom
- First Position
- Ballet 442
- Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present
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