BY JACKSON CLINE
As soon as I tuned in to A Christmas Story Live, I remembered the power of the live TV musical. Not only do live TV musicals expose shows and artists to people who might not otherwise see theatre, but the profound impact they can have on children is awe-inspiring.
Having no strong connection to the original film or the musical, I found it difficult to get excited for this year's telecast. But within minutes, I was entranced by the magic.
Back in my childhood, this December tradition did not exist. Although there had been live TV musicals, they were mainly a thing of the past and did not happen often. We did, however, have the gift of filmed musicals. They just lacked the buzz surrounding a live performance.
Without having danced my way through “Macavity” in full cat beat after memorizing the choreography from the CATS VHS or living my Cinderella fantasies with Brandy and Bernadette Peters (My love of glass slippers goes way back.), I don’t know if theatre would have ended up being such a significant part of my life. It's very possible that I would not even live in New York or work in the theatre industry if the CATS video did not exist.
This is how live television musicals can impact kids today.
As I watched Ana Gasteyer and the adult ensemblists sing “In the Market for a Miracle,” I couldn’t stop thinking of the children who have experienced the magic of these telecasts and fallen in love with theatre because of them.
I thought of the children who will dream of growing up to play a nun just like Linda Mugleston, a munchkin like Tamika Lawrence, or a department store elf like Jason Michael Snow.
To hand-jive through the halls of Rydell High. To fight pirates in Neverland. To dance on the Corny Collins Show.
I thought of the children glued to their television sets as Jane Krakowski and the child ensemble sang “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out” growing up and populating Broadway audiences of the future. Buying cast recordings. Going down Playbill Vault rabbit holes. Watching the Tony Awards.
All because of live TV musicals. What an amazing tradition we have.