Everything about Broadway Plus defies the odds of what should be the reality for an arts industry ravaged by a pandemic. Since March, over 10,000 fans have virtually interacted face-to-face with stage favorites. Artists, out of work since the theatre shut down, are getting paid again. Even in-person experiences are back, such as a Hamilton dance workshop led by Giuseppe Bausilio (with everyone wearing masks, of course).
“Sharing our love for theatre through personalized, bespoke experiences for fans has always been our number one goal,” says Broadway Plus Founder and President Nathaniel Hill. “By expanding our offerings online and enhancing the digital experience, we’re able to support our artists and continue to make Broadway accessible for people all around the world.”
The platform has over 300 artists on its roster, including two-time Tony nominee Alex Brightman (School of Rock, Beetlejuice) and Frozen star Patti Murin. Both of them offer meet-and-greets and vocal coachings, as well as more individualized programming.
“Normally, we only have contact with theatre lovers face to face at a stage door for just a few seconds, but this affords everyone time and space to breathe and truly have a conversation,” says Murin. “Sometimes we talk about the theatre, but so often we end up talking about other things, and really opening up. It's incredibly special for both sides.”
On top of the genuine fan interactions, Broadway Plus “allows performers to make some money while working on the thing they love—and that's the big thing,” says Brightman. “Actors love to work. It's been a true embarrassment of joy to be able to teach day after day and week after week and meet so many aspiring superstars. Also, on a personal note, it has made it very easy for me to take a good chunk of what I make and donate it to other causes.”
In the COVID-era, organizers got creative. Some highlights from the past year include a Tony winners panel with Beth Leavel and Alice Ripley; a Hamilton concert hosted by Christopher Jackson featuring Miguel Cervantes, Nikki Renée Daniels, and Krystal Joy Brown; a character voices workshop with Tony nominee Ethan Slater (Spongebob SquarePants); a Disney sing-a-long with Stephen Carlile (The Lion King); a virtual hangout with three actresses who have all played Regina George in Mean Girls: Taylor Louderman, Reneé Rapp, and Mariah Rose Faith; a Jagged Little Pill cast reunion Q&A; and 45-minute pre-recorded virtual concerts (including group numbers!) with Broadway alums like Julius Thomas III, Shuler Hensley, Kaley Ann Vorhees, and Jenn Colella.
Most artists all offer meet-and-greets, audition coaching, and video shout-outs, with many offering their own custom experiences. There’s also a space for tailor-made experiences for individuals or large groups for corporations and nonprofits, like fully produced videos featuring Les Misérables cast members and virtual concerts with Murin or Tony winner Alice Ripley.
For schools, Broadway Plus can put together masterclasses or industry panels to fit any skill and grade level. They recently helped coordinate multiple classes, each with 100+ students in attendance, for a school system in New Jersey—all different grades.
Broadway Plus just launched a new subscription model, PlusPass. Ensuring Broadway remains more accessible than ever in this virtual landscape, members will have unlimited access to weekly events with major Broadway stars at $19 per month. Upcoming events include a Mean Girls Q&A with Kate Rockwell, Jonalyn Saxer, and Morgan Bryant; an Elphaba concert with Jackie Burns, Talia Suskauer, Lindsay Pearce, and Teal Wicks; and a Hamilton dance class and Q&A with Thayne Jasperson and Andrew Chappelle.