There are more than a few streaming services in the marketplace — far more than 200, in fact — but a service billing itself as the first streaming network dedicated to the world of theater is planning to debut in late summer.
Stage will launch in August with a free version before phasing in a subscription-based variant in October. It will feature original scripted, variety and reality series, live theater, documentaries, talk shows, concerts and Broadway shows, films and international stage productions. The free version will preview of original programming in production, micro-series and licensed films. The subscription launch (with no price specified as yet) will expand the amount of programming to 500 total hours. Initially, Stage will be available only in the U.S., though an international rollout is planned in 2019. No distribution partnerships with streaming gateways like Roku, Chromecast or Apple were mentioned in the official launch announcement.
“Much like the time it takes to produce a full-scale Broadway show, we’ve been quietly at work on Stage for two years, building our team of talent, developing our platform and acquiring existing content, as well as producing new, exclusive programming,” said Rich Affannato, the network’s chairman, CEO and co-founder, who is also a veteran producer of shows such as Peter and the Starcatcher. “Our mission is to make theater accessible to all, drawing in existing theater fans and those new to the world to appreciate the legacy of theater, while presenting it in a fresh, streamlined, relevant manner.”
Programming on Stage includes the following:
Studio Sessions: A salute to musical theater composition, the show is shot live with an audience at New York City’s noted recording studio The Power Station. Each episode celebrates a particular composer’s history and body of work through acoustic performances. Performers include celebrated Broadway stars such as Heidi Blickenstaff, Mandy Gonzalez and Chita Rivera.
CrossOvers: The half-hour talk show features artists who have crossed over from theater to other media.
The Next Great American Musical: The reality competition show showcases new musicals, which are presented and judged until one show wins a Broadway production. Each week, writing teams will enlist singers and dancers to perform portions of their musicals, allowing the panel of judges to narrow the competition down to four finalists. During the finals, both the judge’s panel and online voters will select The Next Great American Musical.
Films, documentaries and other licensed content on Stage includes How I Got Over, The Standbys, EMO the Musical, Broadway Idiot, Showing Up, and Artists Lounge Live.
The network’s executive team also includes Bobby Traversa, executive vice president and co-founder; Jesse Kearney, chief operating officer, General Counsel and co-founder; Jenn Dumas, executive producer, media/operations; Alet Taylor, chief creative officer; and Allyson Rice, associate director, creative development.