Chita Rivera in ‘Studio Sessions’ on STAGE.
STAGE, the world’s first streaming network for premium content devoted to the world of theater, will be coming to the digital screen in 2018. Offering both a free and subscription-based platform, the network will feature original scripted, variety and reality series, live theater, documentaries, talk shows, concerts and Broadway shows, films, international theatre and more that brings viewers into the world of theatre.
The free platform will launch in August 2018 with a preview of original programming in production, micro-series and licensed films. The full platform launch, expected in October 2018, will expand to offer 500 hours of programming to its subscription-based users while maintaining the free platform with limited content. The full launch (subscription models to be announced) will be available to U.S. users, with an international platform expected in 2019.
“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, chairman, CEO and co-founder of STAGE. “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. We will not only give viewers an inside look at what’s happening on-stage but also take them behind-the-scenes to provide backstage access into rehearsals and the lives of theatre stars and legends, as well as educate and provide a historical look back at the evolution of this art form.”
A sample of programming coming to STAGE includes:
- “Studio Sessions” celebrates the best of musical theater composition. Shot at New York City’s famous recording studio, The Power Station, in front of a live, studio audience, each episode celebrates a composer’s history and body of work through acoustic performances by celebrated Broadway stars, including Heidi Blickenstaff, Mandy Gonzalez, Chita Rivera and more.
- “CrossOvers” is a half-hour talk show, taped in front of a live studio audience, featuring a one-on-one interview with a performer who has crossed over from theater to another media (or vice versa).
- “The Next Great American Musical” is a reality competition show in which new musicals 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 such as “How I Got Over,” “The Standbys,” “EMO the Musical,” “Broadway Idiot,” “Showing Up,” and Artists Lounge Live” (showcasing solo artists from the musical theater world honoring the great song catalogs).
“Our free platform, along with our robust social media campaign, will give theatre curious fans a clear picture of who we are and what we’re working so hard to do,” said Bobby Traversa, executive vice president and co-founder of STAGE. “Once we complete this ‘dress rehearsal’ phase and launch the full platform, or as we’ve been calling it — ‘opening night’ — users will be part of our performance, celebrating the tradition of theater in a new, modern way.”
“With the successes that other genres have seen, such as the mystique of restaurant kitchens and chefs being shared through food programming, we’re hoping to do with the theater world by taking the exclusivity away and making it available for all,” added Jesse Kearney, chief operating officer, General Counsel and co-founder of STAGE. “Our logo intertwines three stage lights, representing the past, present and future of theater. With STAGE, we are confident that we will be successful in reaching present and future theatre fans around the country!”