Seven years ago, New Line started a YouTube channel. At first, it wasn’t clear exactly what we’d use it for, beyond promo videos. But after a while, we started to recognize how useful and also educational our channel could be. We started recording interviews with our actors during rehearsals, and I started uploading clips from historical videos I had. Soon I realized we could do so many cool things with your YouTube channel, including my favorite YouTube feature: playlists!
Seven years later, we’ve got more than 350 subscribers and our channel gets more than 5,000 visitors a month, watching close to 15,000 minutes of video each month.
So here are ten of the coolest surprises you’ll find on our YouTube channel. Fair warning, though, if you’re a hardcore musical theatre fan, you may get lost in there and not emerge for several days…
New Line’s YouTube History of Musical Theatre
This is my favorite part of our channel. I’ve assembled two playlists (it wouldn’t fit on one), chronicling the history of our art form, from the beginning to the present, though about 250 YouTube videos. The first video is a recreation of George M. Cohan’s 1904 show, Little Johnny Jones, one of the very first American musical comedies. Many of the videos have the show’s original cast performing numbers on the Tonys, The Tonight Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, and other TV appearances. In some cases, the videos are film or TV versions, or revivals, that are the best records we have. And because we now live happily in The Information Age, we can now see home movies and other rare records of these shows, clips we never could have seen before YouTube. These playlists also include some interviews with writers, directors, and actors. We’re always looking for cool new material to add…
Musical Theatre Interviews
This is playlist of videos featuring writers, directors, designers, and actors talking about their work in the musical theatre, including great artists like Stephen Sondheim, Jason Robert Brown, Hal Prince, Susan Stroman, Tommy Tune, Bill Finn, Tim Rice, Frank Wildhorn, John Kander, Jerry Herman, Savion Glover, George C. Wolfe, Arthur Laurents, Tim Curry, Stew, Michael Friedman, Elaine Strich, Bob Fosse, and that’s not even all of them. Much of this is historical video that’s never been commercially released. Quite a few of these come from my own personal collection. Some of the coolest things include a 1975 interview with Tim Curry about Rocky Horror, a Charlie Rose segment about George Abbott, with his daughter, Frank Rich, and Mary Rodgers Guettel, an interview with Paul Simon about Capeman, a 1965 interview with Sondheim and Arthur Laurents about Do I Hear a Waltz?, and other cool stuff.
Compare and Contrast
I just started this list recently, and I’ll keep adding to it. It’s one of my favorite lists, featuring multiple interpretations of famous theatre songs, so far including various performances of “Rose’s Turn,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “I’m Still Here,” “Being Alive,” “I Am What I Am,” “The Ladies Who Lunch,” and “Wilkommen.” What’s fun for me about this collection is that you can see several “right” but different choices for each song, proving that, most of the time, there really is no “right” answer. I hope this will also be an antidote to all the young actors who imitate the original performers. Every role has so many possibilities!
Random Cool Musical Theatre Shit
Normally, I guess this “Etc.” category would go at the end, but I love these videos so much. They just don’t fit into our other playlists. There are so many odd but awesome things here, including “Def Ass Musical Theatre Gangsta Jam,” Seth MacFarlane doing the “Trouble” speech, “The Horrifying Truth About Life Inside Movie Musicals,” and weirdest of all, Muhammad Ali in a Broadway musical (in case you’re wondering, it’s awful and he can’t sing). But my favorite video here comes from my own collection, Chris Elliott’s hilarious short film “Housewives,” a wacky parody of the famous documentary about making the Company cast album. This aired on the Letterman show in 1994, and I remember at the time thinking, This is hilarious, but no one will get it unless they’ve seen the documentary. Regardless, I was smart enough to record it…
Great Movie Musical Moments
Exactly what it sounds like, an eclectic collection of some incredibly cool movie musical moments, like “Take Off With Us” from All That Jazz, “Mr. Booze” from Robin and the 7 Hoods, and three brilliant clips from the musical-within-a-movie The Tall Guy; alongside more mainstream fare like Gene Kelly’s “Singin’ in the Rain,” and Sweet Charity’s “Big Spender.” My personal favorite is “Fortuosity,” the opening from Disney’s The Happiest Millionaire, one of my all-time favorite movie musicals.
Broadway Musical Commercials
The Broadway musical TV commercial was born in the early 1970s, when Bob Fosse asked producer Stuart Ostrow for some money to film a commercial for Pippin. The commercial did wonders for the box office, and from then on, every big show had to advertise on TV. Here is a really cool collection of commercials from the 70s to today. I especially enjoy watching the commercials for the shows I’ve never seen, to get just a taste of how they felt and how they moved…
Follies and Cop Rock
Whenever I go to New York, I make an appointment to watch videos of shows at the New York Public Library’s Theatre on Film and Tape Collection at Lincoln Center. Years ago, I heard that there were home movies of the original 1971 production of Follies. I called the Collection and asked about it. Yes, they had an hour of home movie footage, half of it with sound. Sold! But there was a hitch. Both Sondheim and James Goldman’s widow had to give permission for me to watch it. As I had corresponded with Sondheim a fair amount, he readily gave permission, but Mrs. Goldman wouldn’t. So I couldn’t watch it. The next time I went to NYC, I enlisted Sondheim to ask Mrs. Goldman, and she agreed, and I finally got to see the footage. Truly one of the thrills of my life, up to that point.
And now all that footage is on YouTube. God bless the internet. So we’ve collected all of it into one playlist.
In parallel to that, I wrote a blog post in 2012 in defense of Cop Rock, which I love. The post continues to get quite a bit of traffic (I’m probably the only one on the entire internet saying anything nice about Cop Rock). Not long ago, I acquired the entire series on DVD. It’s never been released commercially but I found someone who had all the episodes (it ran less than a full season!). When I was writing that post, I thought the best argument for Cop Rock is Cop Rock. I wanted people to see it. So I found several clips already on YouTube, and I added several of my own, and now there are sixteen clips available of this bold, ballsy TV series. My blog post explains why I think this show was worthwhile. If you’re still a skeptic, watch just one of these videos, and judge for yourself. I think the best is “Sandman,” powerful, emotional musical drama.
One of the many cool things people upload to YouTube is demo recordings of musicals. I put together playlists of the demos from Rent, Cry-Baby, and Spring Awakening. It’s so fascinating to hear the differences between these recordings and the later versions we’re familiar with now. One of the biggest surprises for me in the Rent demos (among many!) is that Mark’s parents had thrown him out of the house! And the opening verse to the title song is Mark’s suicide fantasy! Quite a different character from the Mark we know today. So cool to see how a work changes and evolves over time…
New Line Content
We’ve been adding original, Behind-the-Scenes content since 2010, including interviews with actors during the rehearsal process, video tours of our sets, videos of our talk-back events for each show, and also a few media interviews. We also have a playlist of all our promo videos, going back to Urinetown in 2007. We’ve experimented with how to do these promos, but now we have Kyle Jeffery Studios as our regular videographers, so they’re now making really great videos for us, including our awesome 25th Anniversary Video. We also have clips from several of our shows on our channel, documenting our company’s history and evolution over time.
New Line Celebrity Anniversary Wishes
For our 25th anniversary season, we wanted a special video to mark the occasion. So I asked a number of people I know working in New York theatre to record a short video greeting for our anniversary. We ended up with eight very cool videos, from John Waters, Betty Buckley, Amanda Green, Andrew Lippa, Ann Harada, Kyle Jarrow, Lee Wilkof, and John McDaniel. So awesome! And honestly, I was thrilled to get videos from all these folks, but I have to admit the greatest thrill was getting one from John Waters, and wait till you see how awesome his video is…!
Pretty cool, huh? Even cooler, since we did Cry-Baby, I’ve been on John Waters’ Christmas card list. You can’t even imagine…
Admit, our YouTube channel sounds amazing! So take some time to browse around and see what treasures you can find. If you subscribe, you’ll be notified whenever we add anything new. Enjoy!
Long Live the Musical!
from The Bad Boy of Musical Theatre http://newlinetheatre.blogspot.com/2015/10/ten-awesome-surprises-on-new-lines.html