Professional Theatre Now More Accessible to Teens

by Natalie Murray ’18

When examining the demographics of past Broadway audiences, it’s fairly obvious that most theatregoers are middle aged and older – teens and young adults in attendance are very few, mainly due to the lack of musicals that catered to a younger audience.

However, more and more musicals, like “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Heathers,” and “Be More Chill” revolve around high schoolers, so they have themes familiar to teens and young adults, as well as humor that appeals to these age groups. But, since these musicals are newer and therefore too expensive (or too inappropriate) for high schools to produce, teenaged theatre fans don’t have an easy way to see the shows.

Thankfully, there are more ways to see Broadway shows without going to Broadway. Over the summer, a revival of the 1992 musical “Falsettos,” was shown in movie theatres across the country. Now, this professionally-filmed version is available on BroadwayHD, a streaming site for Broadway musicals and plays.

But BroadwayHD has downsides: as well as paying a $9 monthly subscription fee, most shows available on BroadwayHD require an additional payment. Although the site does have potential, the current selection is so limited that there aren’t many young adults or teens that are willing to pay the monthly fee plus the additional cost per show.

Luckily, there are plenty of other opportunities making musicals more accessible: NBC and Fox stream a live musical each year, usually with high-profile celebrities to bring in new fans. For example, Ariana Grande had a role in last year’s “Hairspray Live!” and Fox’s “Grease Live!” featured Vanessa Hudgens. But these were newly-casted, filmed revivals; some shows get professionally filmed and then broadcasted. For example, the “Legally Blonde” musical was streamed on MTV in 2007, PBS is scheduled to show the Falsettos reboot on Oct 27, and Disney’s musical “Newsies” was made available for streaming on Netflix.

Of course, there are other ways to get musicals, namely bootlegs, which are usually uploaded to YouTube. These illegal recordings allow teens and young adults who can’t afford to see live shows to watch productions and be able to follow the plot and put context behind the songs.

The drawback to bootlegs is that, since they’re illegal and not affiliated with the show, the production doesn’t profit off of them. While some don’t consider that a drawback, many fans say they only watch bootlegs is because they can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on travel and ticket costs, but would gladly pay twenty dollars to buy a professionally-filmed DVD of the show. This doesn’t seem to be an event that will happen in the near future, theatre fans hope that more producers will follow the lead of “Falsettos” and “Newsies” and make their shows more accessible to the general public.