With professional theatres nationwide shuttered in the wake of efforts to stem the outbreak of COVID-19, the entire theatre industry is faced with reconsidering how it connects with audiences. That unfortunately includes school and amateur productions, where the effects can be even more devastating due to thinner profit margins.
Theatrical licensors—who administer rights and performance materials to companies looking to produce copyrighted plays and musicals—are stepping up to help out beleaguered companies as much as they can, which in many cases means moving performances online. Music Theatre International, Theatrical Rights Worldwide, Concord Theatricals, Broadway Licensing, and Dramatists Play Service have all implemented emergency policies due to the spread of coronavirus.
Music Theatre International, which represents the entire Disney stage catalog along and such shows as Into the Woods, Hairspray, and Seussical, is approving postponements and waiving cancellation and late fees. They have also secured special permission from rights holders to more than 60 of their shows to allow for live streamed performances for amateur and educational licenses. Shows for which this option has become available include the complete Disney catalog, Hairspray, Fiddler on the Roof, and Les Misérables. To see MTI's coronavirus FAQ including a form to apply for an emergency streaming license, click here.
Concord Theatricals, home to imprints Samuel French, Inc., The Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection, The Tams-Witmark Collection, and The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection, as well as such musicals as Be More Chill, Dreamgirls, and Fun Home, is allowing productions to be postponed without fees, and is waiving cancellation fees when COVID-19 is involved. Though they don't currently offer pre-established permission for streamed performances, they are accepting special requests and passing them along to the relevant rights holders. For details about Concord's response to COVID-19, click here.
Broadway Licensing, which represents such musicals as Head Over Heels, A Bronx Tale, and Chaplin and is home to the massive Playscripts collection, has secured approvals for live streaming more than 400 plays in their Playscripts catalog, and for the Broadway musical Glory Days as well. For a complete list of titles approved for live streaming requests, click here.
Dramatists Play Service, a licensing company that handles the work of such playwrights as Edward Albee, Eugene O'Neill, and John Cariani, has gotten permission to live stream productions on non-professional licenses and certain professional licenses for all plays written by following writers: John Patrick Shanley, John Cariani, Arlene Hutton, Lauren Gunderson, Lucas Hnath, James Ijames, Marc Palmieri, Craig Pospisil, Eugene O'Neill, Edward Albee, John Patrick, and Kaufman and Hart.
Schools moving performances to online methods join many Broadway personalities performing and encouraging others while social distancing, including Seth Rudetsky, Gypsy Tony winner Laura Benanti, and Aladdin star Telly Leung.