On occasion, Rich Baker, Starlight Theatre President and CEO, likes to provide information and insights on topics related to our Broadway season, venue, industry trends and more. This issue’s topic addresses one new feature of our 2017 Broadway season—the shows being streamed on the two LED video screens above the stage.
No matter where you are in Starlight’s nearly 8,000-seat venue, you are treated to a great show – now with an even better view of the action on stage!
Since the 2015 installation of two 20- by 16-foot, state-of-the-art LED video screens above the Starlight stage, audience members have been able to enjoy an enhanced view of our concerts, and now, they can do the same for Broadway musicals. This summer is the first season we are able to stream the Broadway productions on our screens.
With this additional feature, Starlight guests benefit from close-up views of actors’ facial expressions, actions and props they may not have previously been able to see, even from the best seats. No matter where you’re sitting in the venue, you won’t miss what’s happening on stage.
Starlight hasn’t always had the luxury of these enhanced performances. In fact, our screens are fairly new, having been purchased and installed just two years ago. I remember a particular event that sparked our decision to bring video screens to Starlight. Back in 2014, my first summer season as Starlight President and CEO, we hosted the Blue Man Group as part of its North American tour. The Blue Man Group is well-known worldwide for its energetic musical performances, with frequent use of comedic gestures and thought-provoking elements.
I noticed as the group was onstage, there was a discrepancy between the understanding of audience members closer to the stage and those farther back in the venue. While the patrons in the front seats were thoroughly enjoying the performance and laughing, patrons seated farther away seemed somewhat confused, as they were unable to see the Blue Men’s facial expressions and certain actions. I took this as a sign that, in order to best satisfy our audiences, Starlight needed to up its technological repertoire, namely in the form of video screens.
Like any new technology, the screens are not without their challenges. When the option of streaming the Broadway shows was discussed, producers had concerns that the screens might distract from the authentic theatre experience. Few theatres had previously attempted the use of video screen technology during shows, so Starlight was treading largely unexplored territory. However, since feedback we received for concerts was overwhelmingly positive, we decided to give it a go for Starlight’s 2017 summer Broadway season.
So far, we have utilized the screens during all three June musicals, and plan to continue to use them throughout the rest of the season. While more than 90 percent of our patrons have responded positively to this change, we are constantly seeking to improve.
Let it be known that we are always open to your feedback! Theatre-goers can look forward to a bigger and brighter future at Starlight, for as long as technology advances and our skill sets improve, our shows will continue to raise the bar for live performance.