Sunday, September 24, 2023

BroadwayHD: The Award-Winning Theater Streaming Service Taking Center Stage

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Esperanza Squire
Esperanza Squire
Esperanza Squire is a Lifestyle journalist with nearly 20 years. While studying journalism at Boston, Esperanza found a passion for finding local stories. As a contributor to Business News Ledger, Esperanza mostly covers human interest pieces.

Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane, the founders of BroadwayHD, are having an exceptional awards season. As the theater season kicks off with The Drama League Awards and culminates in the Tonys, Comley and Lane find themselves running out of space on their trophy shelf. Since March, BroadwayHD has been honored with prestigious awards such as The Chita Rivera Award, ChaShaMa’s Champion of the Arts Award, four new Telly Awards, and even hosted an Emmy voter screening for the critically acclaimed musical “Mr. Saturday Night” starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler.

BroadwayHD revolutionizes the way audiences experience Broadway by offering high-quality filmed versions of full-length productions, adopting a Netflix-like model with a vast catalog of hundreds of shows. While the on-demand subscription streaming service was launched in 2015, the founders’ involvement in filming Broadway shows spans several decades. Lane, co-owner of the legendary Palace Theater, produced and filmed “The Will Rogers Follies” back in 1992. Comley, on the other hand, began her career as a host and reporter for Nigthlife TV on The Travel Channel, covering cultural events, cabaret, and theater. Their shared vision was always to make Broadway accessible beyond the physical confines of a theater. Since 1992, they have been involved in the filming and distribution of numerous shows, including “Legally Blonde,” “Grease is the Word,” “Company” featuring Raul Esparza and Neil Patrick Harris, “Cyrano” with Kevin Kline, Sondheim’s Birthday Concert, “Romeo and Juliet” starring Orlando Bloom, “ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway,” and many more. With the advent of streaming technology, they created BroadwayHD with the aim of bringing the magic of Broadway to a global audience.

Lane and Comley are highly respected members of the Broadway community, with Lane’s theater ownership spanning over 40 years. Both of them are also members of The Broadway League and have received prestigious awards such as Tony and Olivier Awards, the highest honors for Broadway and West End shows. In addition, they have been honored with The Actors Fund Medal of Honor, The Paul Newman Award, Drama League Awards, and have theaters named after them to commemorate their philanthropic efforts in the arts. With their deep connections and influence within the theater industry, Lane and Comley successfully secured agreements with all seventeen unions, guilds, and associations responsible for creating Broadway shows, ensuring a high level of confidence in the filming process. Their unwavering dedication to the live theater community and their ability to leverage BroadwayHD to reach a global audience has earned them the respect and accolades of their colleagues.

Stewart F. Lane_ Jerry Mitchell_ Bonnie Comley
Stewart F. Lane, Jerry Mitchell, Bonnie Comley

Tony-Winning Choreographer Jerry Mitchell, during his presentation speech for the Chita Rivera Award, highlighted how the filming and streaming of “Kinky Boots” led to a tenfold increase in ticket sales for the live stage shows. Mitchell emphasized the incredible passion of BroadwayHD founders Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley, stating, “Their dedication to preserving and presenting our art to people who may never have the chance to visit our city is remarkable.” Chita Rivera herself, a legend in the Broadway industry and starring in the streaming production of “Pippin” on BroadwayHD, also echoed the sentiment of the added value of filmed shows.

Anita Durst, the Founder of ChaShaMa, expressed her excitement in recognizing BroadwayHD as a trailblazer in the Broadway industry. She applauded their use of streaming technology to lead the digital transformation of live theater arts, making Broadway accessible to a global audience. BroadwayHD serves as a 24/7 platform for theater fans to engage with the art form they love and provides a

low-risk, affordable entry point to Broadway for those interested in theater but unsure where to start.

Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane BroadwayHD Founders
Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane – BroadwayHD Founders

As BroadwayHD enters its second decade, it continues to gain momentum among audiences, subscribers, and theater professionals eager to promote their shows to a wider audience. The platform serves as an introduction to Broadway for children and young viewers, who will become the next generation of theatergoers. With its extensive collection of stage-to-screen adaptations from Broadway, including limited-run shows like “Mr. Saturday Night” with Billy Crystal and Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Indecent,” BroadwayHD plays a vital role in preserving and perpetuating the legacy of renowned composer Andrew Lloyd Webber by showcasing his extensive musical repertoire. These reasons, among many others, explain why BroadwayHD is receiving numerous accolades. Thanks to BroadwayHD, the magic of Broadway is now accessible to everyone – stream on and experience the thrill!

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