Live Musicals: What’s up with that?

Before I say anything, please take a look at this clip from Grease: Live,

From what you just watched, I hope you were able to see the genius production and the beautiful performance that went into FOX’s Grease: Live airing from this January. And for a live musical production as this one, it had massive success among all audiences who tuned in that night to watch the three hour event. According to the Boston Globe, the live taping drew in some 12.2 million viewers and had a strong 4.3 rating among adults aged 18-49 (2). The added addition of an all-star cast made Grease: Live an even bigger success as each cast member brought in a different kind of audience – the cast included big names such as Aaron Tveit, Julianne Hough, Vanessa Hudgens, Mario Lopez, Carly Rae Jepsen, Keke Palmer, and Carlos PenaVega. And with all of the incredible ratings and an equally incredible cast, Grease: Live had been nominated for ten Primetime Emmy Awards, winning a total of five including Outstanding Special Class Program!

With FOX entering the live musical scene, it is important to recognize that NBC has been airing live musicals during the holiday season since 2013 – starting with The Sound of Music Live! which drew in over 18.26 million viewers! In much anticipation, NBC has been working on a production of Hairspray Live! which is set to air on Wednesday, December 7th 2016 at 8/7c! Much like Grease: Live, the cast is filled with big names and faces throughout the industry but on a much grander scale. For Hairspray Live! NBC has casted Jennifer Hudson, Harvey Fierstein, Ariana Grande, Kristin Chenoweth, Derek Hough, Dove Cameron, Martin Short, and so many more! Similar to the cast of Grease: Live, each cast member of Hairspray draws in a different kind of audience and a good number of them have appeared and starred in shows on Broadway from Hudson in The Color Purple, Chenoweth in Wicked, and Grande in 13. As NBC has been planning for this production and airing to be hugely successful, the expectations are at an all time high after the cast performed at the 2016 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade:

And as we are in an age where we have everything at our fingertips, networks like NBC and FOX are creating live musicals to not only bring musicals into the home but to also increase their ratings. NBC has had incredible success with producing and airing live musicals – in 2015, The Wiz Live! had over 11 million viewers, an all-black cast and had over fifteen award nominations split between the Primetime Emmy Awards, the NAACP Image Awards, the Critics’ Choice Television Awards, and the Black Reel Awards. Along the same lines as previous musicals, The Wiz Live! was able to draw in the same amount of viewers and ratings NBC wanted to see. For the most part, the overall network ratings have been dropping as more and more Americans tend to binge watch television and time shift on when to watch television. This has put the power directly into the viewer’s hands making networks like NBC and FOX search for specials and programs that draws in everyone all at once to compensate for falling ratings.

However, Hairspray Live! will be the newest addition to NBC’s annual tradition of producing a live, televised musical and will hopefully capture the ratings and viewers that NBC is looking for. As we get closer to the airing of Hairspray Live!, there has been more and more advertisements and previews all over social media to draw in viewers of all age groups – specifically focusing on how star-studded the production is going to be and amping up the famous music that will be showcased throughout the night! And in the words of the show’s most iconic song, just remember that you can’t stop the beat and that you should definitely tune into Hairspray Live! on NBC, December 7th 2016 at 8/7c!

Credit: Giphy
Credit: Giphy

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