Opinion

Live television productions should honor theatre art form

In light of Fox Network’s live revamp of RENT, which was to air Jan. 27, it seems only appropriate to discuss the role that the newly emerged format plays in the world of theatre.

Though live television is no stranger to musical spectacles, the full, staged-show arrangement we see today has only recently been developed.

Beginning in 2013 with NBC’s live staging of The Sound of Music, these types of theatrical vehicles have become incredibly popular amongst different broadcast networks.

But how do viewers feel about this new way to view theatre? Do these types of productions allow more people to enjoy the art, or can they diminish the value of actual, live theatre itself?

While it is nice to see the appreciation of theatre as an art form that is becoming more and more popular, the execution of many live television musicals raises some concerns.

The initial issue with many productions staged for TV is that directors constantly cast for star-value over job experience. Musical theatre varies greatly from television acting, and while it may be nice to have someone with camera experience, it is far easier to train an actor to adapt to the camera than to teach them how to dance and sing.

The casting of actors who do not suit characters from a talent standpoint does nothing but hinder the production as a whole.

Also, if the purpose of these productions is to advance the world of theatre, why not cast actors who are currently working in that field and job environment?

Another issue often found in these types of productions is the unnecessary alteration of source material.

No, not all productions of the same musical will be exactly alike, and they should be different.

However, alteration of scores and scripts purely to “revamp” or “update” the production can depreciate what made the material successful in the first place.

A good example of this can be found in Fox’s remake of Grease.

The addition of a new song, purely to ensure star Carly Rae Jepsen sang a solo piece, not only disrupted what is a very recognizable musical score, but was also the only stumbling block in what was otherwise a fairly strong production.

This is not to say that all live productions are poorly executed or should be no longer produced, but that, as with all productions,
things can be improved.

So, do these types of productions allow more people to enjoy the art, or do they diminish the value of actual, live theatre itself?

The answer to both of these questions is yes. Yes, the great thing about these types of musical stagings is that it introduces the world of theatre to an audience that may not have experience with it, and it extends opportunities for those who are already fully immersed in viewing live theatre.

However, the caveat with this is that when live television productions are not executed properly, they can discourage audience members from wanting to continue on the path of viewing live theatre, be it on television or onstage.

In order to promote the broadening of theatre viewership, live television productions should ensure they are doing everything in their power to honor the art itself.

Opinion by Abigail Burgess, Vanguard Reporter

In order to promote the broadening of theatre viewership, live television productions should ensure they are doing everything in their power to honor the art itself.

Categories: Opinion

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