Keep “live” musicals off T.V.

Carlos Martinez

It’s that time of year where the weather gets slightly cooler, families gather to celebrate the holidays and the dreadful “live” musical is showcased during the season, with Fox’s “A Christmas Story Live!” as this year’s special.

Unfortunately, musicals will only get crappier as long as television networks keep mass producing them every six or eight months.

Broadcasting networks, notably NBC, have developed a holiday tradition of developing popular musicals, reformatting for the use of production studios and then film live for families across the nation.

Originally, an experimental television special for the musical “The Sound of Music,” networks try to recreate the famous musicals from Broadway just to make a quick buck and to get a bump in ratings.

A majority of the time, networks would focus on obtaining global megastars with no theatre background instead or looking for Broadway talent with experiences of doing live theatre or the production itself.

An example of this is “The Sound of Music” Live!” special. Although Underwood is an exceptional performer in the music industry, her acting was poorly received by critics. Regardless of her lack of acting experience, her name gave the ratings NBC was not expecting.

This would eventually lead to networks to produce more and slap inexperience celebrities on their cast lists, focusing more on bringing in the ratings instead of the overall quality of the production.

NBC’s “Hairspray Live” is a prime example of the shift towards ratings. Both contain a healthy mix of Broadway and mainstream professionals in its cast and a nifty to make amazing scenery; so on paper it would have been a hit in terms of reviews and ratings.

The result was the exact opposite. Actors such as Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson were not utilized to the fullest in order to save the production. Both Grande and Hudson did amazing work for their roles Penny Pingleton and Motormouth Maybelle, respectively, but were used as a way to secure ratings in their supporting roles instead of focusing only on their talent.

The only two musicals that managed to do have a decent balance of both ratings and reception are Fox’s “Grease Live!” and NBC’s “The Wiz Live!” Both productions have casts with recognition like “The Sound of Music” and experience like “Hairspray,” but managed to focus more on their demographics and the production itself.

Until these productions learn from Broadway, live musicals will be a hallow shell of its former self filled with inexperienced actors.

As “A Christmas Story Live!” inches closer to our television sets, we can only hold our breaths to see if it will finally achieve the spirit of live theatre or tank with its predecessors.