STEWART F. LANE: THE MAN WHO MADE THEATRE A DIGITAL EXPERIENCE
Has streaming become the new face of theatre? During the pandemic, the answer is definitely “yes.” Although the authentic experience of live theatre can only be enjoyed physically, digital platforms have ushered live entertainment to a whole new era and will remain a part of the industry post lockdown. Streaming visionary and six-time Tony Award winner, Stewart F. Lane speaks on this, “I have been involved with filming stage to screen productions for many years because I believe it expands the audience for Broadway”.
Lane is an eminent theatre producer with a decades-long career of critically acclaimed live shows and he is co-owner of the legendary Palace Theatre. In 2015, Lane founded BroadwayHD and it is transforming the Broadway industry by streaming full length shows on the Internet. BroadwayHD has often been referred to as the “Netflix for Broadway”. In it’s short history, BroadwayHD has made the Guinness World Record for the first live stream of a Broadway show, won eight Telly Awards, been nominated for a Webby, and amassed subscribers in 124 countries. Meanwhile, the average age for a Broadway ticket buyer dropped for the first time in over 20 years. This change in demographics is evidence that by making Broadway accessible to a younger and more diverse audience on the Internet, it is motivating them to buy tickets to the live stage shows. BroadwayHD is proving to be a win-win for everyone who loves Broadway by serving the current Broadway fan and ensuring a strong audience for the future.
ONE-OF-A-KIND STREAMING PLATFORM
BroadwayHD is a niche subscription streaming platform having full-length stage plays and musicals captured specifically for multi-platform viewing to theatre fans across the globe. BroadwayHD offers unlimited on-demand access to a library of 300+ theatre productions from Broadway to every subscriber. Every piece of content on the platform is a treasure as it had to cross several barriers before hitting the spotlight. The platform is engineered by a team of theatre enthusiasts, tech-experts and digital marketing specialists, whose combined focus resides on making theatre available to everyone. “The ticket-buying audience for the live stage shows is easy to reach and affluent. And theatre fans that could not afford tickets or get to the theatre are thrilled to have access to a brand previously unavailable to them”, asserts Lane.
BroadwayHD’s Motto – “If You Can’t Get to Broadway, Get to BroadwayHD”.
BroadwayHD’s positive reviews, an enormous fan base and international recognition fuel its popularity for their digital filmed shows. The platform is barrelled with emerging innovations so that subscribers get access to a robust and dynamic library of continuously streaming content. Incorporating subscriber feedback and staying ahead of technology trends creates opportunity for new shows and builds a constant pipeline for streamed contents.
LIVE THEATRE BACKGROUND
Lane’s motivation in establishing BroadwayHD is driven by an exceptional career in the theatre arena. His passion and love for theatre started in childhood after seeing Neil Simon’s “Little Me” on Broadway. Making up his mind to pursue a career in theatre, he attended Boston University and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Acting. After five years starring in regional theatre and touring productions, Lane wanted to return to New York so he set his sights on producing. Lane worked on Broadway as an Assistant House Manager and eventually secured a position working for his mentor James M. Nederlander.
Lane’s experience and love of live theatre has led him to his place as a theatre historian. Lane has authored the books – Black Broadway: African Americans on the Great White Way, Jews on Broadway: An Historical Survey of Performers, Playwrights, Composers, Lyricists and Producers, 2d Ed. and Let’s Put on a Show! Theatre Production for Novices. These books are a holistic guide to anyone aspiring to a career in theatre production and those interested in the rich history of theatre.
Lane not only re-defined the theatre experience but has also given back to the theatre community. Lane serves on the Board of Trustees at Boston University, The Actors Fund and The American Theatre Wing. He has formed scholarship funds at Columbia University Business Graduate School, Boston University College of Fine Arts Undergraduate School and UMass among others. He has actively supported LaGuardia High School and many other performing arts schools across the US. In honour of his efforts, Five Towns College has renamed their business school the Stewart F. Lane School of Business for his contributions to the World of Entertainment.
A COURTEOUS AMBIENCE
‘Safety’, ‘Respect’ and ‘Community’, these are the three core values that uphold BroadwayHD. Lane envisioned this platform not only to propagate the splendour of Broadway but to empower theatre enthusiasts as well. At BroadwayHD, whether it’s employees, the subscriber’s data or content – everyone and everything exult a wholesome environment. The cohesiveness amongst these propels the brand to a broader community and helps it thrive. Every team member puts forth an equilateral love and appreciation for the theatrical productions and responsibly protects and promotes that content. A lot of Lane’s and his team’s efforts go to live stage shows but still, they manage a work-life balance by spending time with their families on weekends and vacations.
BESTOWED WITH REVERENCE AND ACCOLADES
Lane’s eminence and experience make him a connoisseur of his segment and constantly powers his goal to re-define Broadway shows. Through his media technology platform, he has sculpted the long-standing art from an elitist form to an art form accessible to everyone. “Our shows are priceless, and we treat them that way and our content partners appreciate that and the subscribers adore it”, Lane exclaims wholeheartedly. He has produced the Olivier winning Top Hat, and Olivier Nominated musicals ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ and ‘Ragtime’, and the world premiere of JFK: A musical Drama as well. His long-lasting stretch has fostered many more timeless shows and shaped him to the pioneer he is.
Lane was bestowed with the Guinness World Record in 2016 for premiering the first Broadway Show (She Loves Me) as a live stream. He has received – 4 Drama Desk Awards, a Drama Critics Circle Award, an Outer Circle Critics Award and a Drama League Award. His productions and talent are further conferred with the prestigious Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor, The Actors Fund Medal of Honor, The Jewish National Fund Tree of Life Award, and many other prestigious awards.
Lane launched a Trailblazer’s Rail of Content on BroadwayHD to impart support to the marginalized voices – Women, LGBTQ and other underrepresented communities. BroadwayHD shines a spotlight on the underrepresented so that they are encouraged to pursue similar opportunities as the established artists. In his journey to revamp theatre culture, Lane aims to infuse his platform with engaging content and cement his ultimate goal of creating accessibility for all. He further comments, “I look forward to more vibrant content and my place as a mentor and advisor to inspire the next generation of theatre-makers and audiences.”
WORDS OF WISDOM BY STEWART F. LANE
“Believe in yourself – it is the best investment for your career and life. Be sure of what you are doing and the audience you are attracting. And always be ready for a roller coaster ride of winning and losing!”