17 Documentaries for Musical Theatre College students to Stream On-line

Broadway’s beloved characters, its iconic stars, and groundbreaking productions have fascinated theatregoers and documentary filmmakers alike for many years. As college students prepare to move again to highschool this semester, we have compiled a listing of movies that seize a few of musical theatre’s most compelling tales.

Take a look at a listing of documentaries obtainable to stream under, all obtainable to stream without spending a dime or with a subscription. College students get 6 months of Amazon Prime free.


One of many first feature-length documentaries concerning the Tony- and Pulitzer-winning Black playwright, who handed away in 2005, contains new interviews with movie and stage luminaries and his household, scenes from his award-winning performs, and extra. Sam Pollard directed the movie, which options interviews with James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Laurence Fishburne, Viola Davis, Charles Dutton and Ruben Santiago-Hudson, amongst others. Wilson is probably finest recognized for his Pittsburgh Cycle, a group of ten performs set in and across the Pennsylvania metropolis, together with Fences, Jitney, King Hedley II, and Radio Golf.
Obtainable on: Prime Video


Winner of the Greatest New Documentary Director on the 2018 Tribeca Movie Competition, Steve Younger was a comedy author for The Late Present With David Letterman when he stumbled upon classic solid albums—solely they weren’t from any musical he’d ever heard of. Younger takes a deep dive into the world of business musicals of the Fifties to the Seventies written for manufacturers like Normal Electrical and McDonald’s. Directed by Dava Whisenant, the doc received Greatest Documentary Screenplay on the 2019 Writers Guild Awards, that includes David Letterman, Martin Quick, Jello Biafra, Chita Rivera, Don Bolles, and extra.
Obtainable on: Netflix


Unique solid member Lonny Worth directs this fascinating and bittersweet documentary concerning the short-lived 1981 Stephen Sondheim–George Furth musical Merrily We Roll Alongside. Worth splices never-before-seen rehearsal footage alongside interviews with Sondheim, director Harold Prince, and unique solid members together with Jason Alexander, Tonya Pinkins, Jim Walton, Ann Morrison, and extra.
Obtainable on: Netflix


Utilizing interviews with luminaries like Ossie Davis, Amiri Baraka, James Earl Jones, and Ntozake Shange, and clips from a number of performs, this movie paperwork the historical past Black theatre impressed by the Civil Rights motion.
Avilable on: Vimeo


This documentary follows Inexperienced Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong as he works to show the band’s hit rock album right into a Tony-nominated musical. Directed by Doug Hamilton, the movie follows Armstrong from Madison Sq. Backyard to Broadway with the assistance of Tony-winning director Michael Mayer (who co-wrote the ebook with the frontman), Tony-winning orchestrator Tom Kitt, and Olivier Award-winning choreographer Steven Hoggett.
Obtainable on: Prime Video (free with advertisements)


A becoming tribute to a beloved Broadway legend, filmmaker and Broadway producer Dori Berinstein (The Promenade, Legally Blonde The Musical) directs this chronicle of the life, loves, and historic profession of Tony winner Carol Channing on this 2012 movie. From her San Francisco childhood, to her 1941 Broadway debut (at age 20) and her iconic efficiency in Howdy, Dolly!, Channing recounts the highs and lows of a life spent on the stage. Channing opens up about her private life, together with her 4 marriages and her relationship along with her son. Showbiz groundbreakers, together with Lily Tomlin, Chita Rivera, Debbie Reynolds, Phyllis Diller and extra, supply heartfelt tributes celebrating Channing’s singular expertise. (88 minutes)
Obtainable on: Prime Video (with add-on trial)


“It is somewhat scary for folks to get into your life that a lot, however I don’t have something to cover,” the late Elaine Stritch informed Playbill through the filming. “There’s no level in doing a documentary until you completely ship the one hundred pc fact.” Filmmaker Chiemi Karasawa started capturing the documentary in 2011, three years earlier than Stritch’s demise. The movie is traditional Stritch: unflinchingly candid, shrewdly humorous, deeply shifting and flecked with rigidity. Karasawa delivers a gripping movie that captures a Broadway lion nonetheless able to roaring within the ultimate years of her life. (81 minutes)
Obtainable on: Prime Video (with add-on trial)


An in-depth have a look at the life and profession of the late Terrence McNally, who wrote the whole lot from comedies about up to date homosexual life to musicals about long-lost Russian royalty. Amongst his works are Love! Valour! Compassion!, Grasp Class, and the books to Ragtime and Kiss of the Spider Lady. These interviewed embrace Christine Baranski, F. Murray Abraham, and Angela Lansbury.
Obtainable on: Prime Video


This backstage have a look at the 2006 Broadway revival of A Refrain Line goes meta in documenting the hopes and desires of the most recent spherical of dancers auditioning for a spot on the road to play dancers auditioning for a spot on the road. Directed and produced by James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo, together with govt producer John Breglio (who controls rights to the landmark musical), Each Little Step supplies an intimate have a look at the trials of the audition course of, and the highs and lows that include it. The 2008 doc additionally explores the late Michael Bennett’s creation of the unique manufacturing. The documentary contains testimonials from A Refrain Line‘s preliminary workshop tapes, which characteristic the voices of the unique 1975 solid members.
Obtainable on: YouTube (free)


Initially aired as a part of PBS’ Nice Performances collection, the 2018 documentary predated the 21-time Tony Award-winning producer and director’s demise in the summertime of 2019. Over six a long time on Broadway, Prince shepherded such exhibits as The Pajama Sport, Rattling Yankees, West Facet Story, Fiorello!, She Loves Me, Cabaret, Firm, Follies, Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, A Little Evening Music, Candide, Fiddler on the Roof, Sweeney Todd, and Parade. Prince made an unprecedented mark on theatre—one unlikely to be replicated. The documentary options testimony from Prince himself, in addition to collaborators Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Mandy Patinkin, John Kander, Susan Stroman, and Angela Lansbury.
Obtainable on: PBS Passport


The documentary, directed by Jeff Wolk, dives into one of many Nice White Approach’s most influential folks—one whose identify will not be typically talked about within the historical past books—and follows the producer’s newest effort to mount a present on the Fundamental Stem, Tappin Through Life. Narrated by the star of Broadway’s A Christmas Carol Campbell Scott, Leonard Soloway’s Broadway makes use of interviews and archival supplies to rejoice the producer’s seven-decade profession and honors his private life as an at all times out and proud homosexual man. A few of his Soloway’s well-known productions embrace Ready within the Wings with Lauren Bacall and Rosemary Harris, Reach Enterprise With out Actually Making an attempt, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, A Moon For the Misbegotten, and Mark Twain Tonight! with Hal Holbrook.
Obtainable on: Prime Video, BroadwayHD


This 2006 documentary contains interviews with over 40 girls who performed orphans through the unique 1977–1983 Broadway run of Annie. The challenges and joys of being a toddler star, and returning to a “regular” childhood after they grew out of their roles, are explored as these Annie vets have a look again. Noticeably lacking from the movie is unique star Andrea McArdle, however the movie does embrace interviews with writers Martin Charnin and Charles Strouse as they put together to deliver the manufacturing again in 1997. (72 minutes)
Obtainable on: Prime Video (with add-on trial)


When A Raisin within the Solar bowed on Broadway March 11, 1959, it was the primary play written by a Black girl to hit the Fundamental Stem. This documentary from PBS American Masters explores the playwright’s life and creative contributions. Narrated by LaTanya Richardson Jackson (Tony-nominated for her function as Lena Youthful within the 2014 revival of A Raisin within the Solar), and directed by Tracy Heather Pressure, the movie options Tony winner Anika Noni Rose (who additionally earned a Tony nod for the 2014 revival) because the voice of Hansberry. The documentary additionally contains interviews with Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, and Louis Gossett Jr.
Obtainable on: PBS Passport


Full of drama, D. A. Pennebaker’s documentary goes contained in the recording studio for the unique Broadway solid album of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s 1970 musical Firm. Recorded (and filmed) over a breakneck 24-hour interval, the behind-the-scenes account of the album’s creation is the stuff of Broadway legend. Sondheim and director Harold Prince present illuminating perception, and performances by Dean Jones (“Being Alive”) and Elaine Stritch, who involves a standstill throughout a frazzled late-night recording of “Women Who Lunch,” that can go away you speechless.
Obtainable on: The Criterion Channel

NOTE: Not a real documentary, however a documentary-style parody price a watch, Documentary Now! spoofed Unique Solid Album: Firm with Episode 3 Season 3, Unique Solid Album: Co-Op. From John Mulaney and Seth Meyers, the episode options Mulaney because the Sondheim-esque songwriter Simon Stephens with Taran Killam (Hamilton, Saturday Evening Reside) as producer Benedict Juniper. Broadway stars Renee Elise Goldsberry, Alex Brightman, Richard Form, Paula Pell, stand out in numbers like “Vacation Occasion (I Did a Little Cocaine Tonight)” and “Going Up.” And along with the doc, Criterion Channel additionally has a current, digital dialog with the “Co-Op” performers.
Obtainable on: Netflix


One other PBS American Masters presentation, it is a portrait of the late performer’s journey from his native Puerto Rico to the inventive hotbed of Sixties New York Metropolis, to prominence on Broadway and in Hollywood. Juliá’s profession, which helped pave the best way for a lot of Latinx artists at this time, was minimize quick by his demise 25 years in the past at age 54. The stage and display star was a four-time Tony nominee for his performances in 9, The Threepenny Opera, The place’s Charley?, and Two Gents of Verona. His movie work included Kiss of the Spider Lady, Moon Over Parador, Romero, Presumed Harmless, and The Addams Household.
Obtainable on: PBS Passport


The future of 4 Broadway musicals from the 2003–2004 season are captured in one other documentary from Dori Berinstein. The film affords a uncommon behind-the-scenes view of a present’s inventive course of—from casting to opening evening. Critics, creatives, and Broadway’s largest movers and shakers are the important thing gamers on this documentary that focuses on Depraved, Taboo, Avenue Q, and Caroline, or Change.
Obtainable on: Prime Video (with add-on trial)

Stephen Sondheim’s frequent collaborator, James Lapine, directed this 2013 HBO documentary exploring the composer-lyricist’s prolific profession. Lapine executive-produced the movie with Frank Wealthy. Sondheim affords a glimpse into the creation of such songs as West Facet Story’s “One thing’s Coming,” Merrily We Roll Alongside’s “Opening Doorways,” A Little Evening Music’s “Ship within the Clowns,” Follies’ “I’m Nonetheless Right here,” Firm’s “Being Alive” and Sunday within the Park With George’s “Sunday.” The documentary is punctuated with a collection of musical performances from stars together with Audra McDonald, Darren Criss, Jeremy Jordan, and America Ferrera.
Obtainable on: HBO Max, Amazon Prime (with HBO subscription)

On the lookout for much more? Take a look at this record of 18 documentaries, lots of them obtainable to buy digitally.

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