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Broadway Bootlegs: The Form of Art that Should Be Accessible

July 6, 20208 min read

Broadway is seen as a form of privilege among the audience. It is seen through the attire, the theatre, the ticket cost and sometimes, the Broadway show itself. Broadway, speaking as a whole, claims to have progressed and evolved from its true act of entitlement when it first began. Or rather, when people began to call them out.

As the world changed through the decades of optimism and reliance, Broadway was a little behind and it still is. Today, Broadway productions have opened an aspect of opportunities for minorities through the cast, the crew and the storyline. Yet, Broadway lacks the foundation of accessibility for worldwide fans. They have progressed, but not as much as they think.

For the years, Broadway has exploited a traditional form of art to nearby theatre for fans to watch. They have created national tours for selective cities to parade around the states. If you’re an international fan and lucky, a popular Broadway show will open in your country. In most cases, the United Kingdom and Spain are popular hotspots for Broadway shows, which leaves 190 countries without a Broadway production. Not to mention, the raging cost for Broadway tickets.

As Broadway shows begin to spread awareness on modern difficulties and introduce a wave of nostalgia, they pinpoint a specific audience: teenagers. Broadway attracts teens from all over the world. Recently, in The Broadway League’s “The Demographics of the Broadway Audience 2018-2019 Season,” teens have filled up the seats in the theatre more than the adults. The small difference impacts the cost of the ticket to many teenagers.

Be More Chill on WestEnd via Twitter.

The average Broadway tickets have also increased significantly from 2010 to 2019. The difference is $34.43 for Broadway musicals and $41 for Broadway plays. Totaling to $122.73 for Broadway musicals and $116.12 for Broadway plays. Keep in mind, the ticket cost is per person minus the countless fees and travel expenses. (From my experience, my ticket totaled to $165 for Anastasia’s National Tour). The difference may not seem much, but over the years during economic change, it’s a lot. Frankly, international fans simply have a disadvantage.

Therefore, with the lack of accessibility, many international and national fans turn to bootlegs. Bootlegs are illegal recorded videos of parts, if not all the show of a Broadway production. Mostly all Broadway productions have copyright contraventions the minute the audience enters the theatre. Yet, that does not stop people from recording. Why? Because they know how much a Broadway show means to fans from all over the world. It’s an act of art that limits individuals from experiencing an impact on Broadway. As I mentioned before, Broadway productions are picky with their show. It takes time and money to produce a show in a foreign country.

To fans, bootlegs are the parts of the show that are not in the official cast recording soundtrack. It completes the imagination a fan holds for the show. At times, the lyrics and music cannot justify the plot holes between songs. A synopsis can give fans an idea of the show entirely, but it’s different. Bootlegs give fans an understanding of the show, in a slightly low-quality version.

Bootlegs impact Broadway in different ways. They create traffic to shows whether the show is new or ended years ago. People still mention different eras of a show because different actors have portrayed the characters. Not to mention, teens contribute to the show despite not attending a production. The stream or buy the official cast recordings and buy merchandise.

Apart from the foundation of a Broadway production, the chances of a bootleg becoming a legal film are slim to none. Live stage production recordings are high-quality productions of a Broadway musical or show made into a film. The preservation of a Broadway production into a film is quite expensive to develop. It’s not only the film crew but the contracts and unions of the actors as well as the copyright infringements. Other times, the show does not make it in the long run. If a show records a film, chances are they are kept in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts as an achievement. The public will not be able to watch the film.

The Cast of Hamilton via Twitter.

The Broadway musical hit, Hamilton, is one of the lucky ones. After years of live stage recording, the film found a home in Disney + for fans to watch. The film is now available to watch as fans no longer have to suffer from poor quality videos on YouTube.

Hamilton on Disney + took a step forward for accessibility in Broadway. It has not been entirely free or legally available to the entire world, but it creates an idea for the future of Broadway shows. Streaming services and film company will mimic Disney + strategies for other popular Broadway shows. After all, Hamilton created a huge traffic on Disney + and social media. It was the talk of the town. If you were not watching Hamilton this weekend with practically the whole world then you were really missing out.

The controversy on bootlegs is simply exaggerated to a point.

Many, including broadway actors such as Patti Murin, believe bootlegs will dismantle Broadway forever.

Yes, poor quality shots of a show will destroy a multi-billion Broadway corporation. Broadway will slowly crumble itself with overpriced tickets, the lack of availability for disabled people, and discrimination.

Bootlegs will not discourage viewers from attending a Broadway show. The cost will impact the decision, but Broadway has been doing fine. Blaming teenagers is not the problem. It’s a bigger issue than it is. Teens are the next generation for Broadway’s future. Bootlegs will not be any interference, it will be beneficial reassurance for people to attend. After all, it is a form of art that should be accessible.

Featured Image via Twitter.

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Dafny Flores

Dafny is an 18 year old from a small town in South Texas. She enjoys writing about various topics in the entertainment industry. Apart from writing, she’s interested in books, fashion, and an expansion for her education.