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Live Theatre: On Stage and In Your Home

November 18th, 2021

No doubt about it. We’re in the midst of a paradigm shift—a time for reconsidering old assumptions even as we hope for a so-called return to normal.

Consider: the past two years have seen an explosion of teleconferences, delivery services, and online commerce. Mask wearing and physical distancing effectively canceled last year’s cold and flu season, and mRNA technology has become a medical game-changer. Likewise, changes in the arts have been seismic.

Above: David Nackman’s performance in Karloff: the Man and the Monster marked Prime Stage Theatre’s return to live performances after a year of virtual productions. A recording of the play is currently available via video-on-demand from AnywhereSeat.

With more people staying at home in the first quarter of 2021, the sale of print books grew 29 percent while ebook and audio editions saw dramatic increases as well. Likewise, sales of physical media players (once thought destined for extinction) grew 27 percent in the first few months of the 2020 lockdown, while the growth of streaming services was even more dramatic, with subscriptions passing 1 billion.

And then there was Warner Brothers with its decision to release “its entire 2021 slate of feature films on HBO Max simultaneously with the release in theaters” even as Broadway’s Hamilton played on Disney+. And now, services like Anywhere Seat, Marque TV, and Broadway on Demand are further increasing the availability of live-theatre productions by streaming them to homes around the world.

Of course, at-home entertainment isn’t likely to supplant live theatre. Just as cinema didn’t replace the stage and movie houses survived the advent of TV, at-home streaming will never be the same as a night out. That’s something I was reminded of two weeks ago when I attended opening night of Prime Stage’s Karloff–my first attendance at a live theatre event in nearly two years. Sitting fifth-row center, surrounded by vaxed-and-masked friends and strangers, I realized the truth of a comment that filmmaker Edgar Wright recently made about staying in vs going out. “Sitting in the dark with strangers,” he said, “is a communal experience that no platform streaming to your living room can provide.”

Nevertheless, if you were unable to attend Karloff live, you can thank the recent paradigm shift for making it possible to catch the show via video-on-demand.

Between now and November 28, Prime Stage Theatre’s production of Karloff: The Man and the Monster is available via the streaming service Anywhere Seat. Tickets and information are available at the Prime Stage website, where you can also learn about future performance—both live and virtual.

The world is changing. The old normal may be a thing of the past, but given recent advancements, the new one may be even better.

Below: The official trailer for Prime Stage Theatre’s production of Randy Bowser’s Karloff: The Man and the Monster, directed by Arthur DeConceliis, currently available via vod.

A Trap Full of Monsters:
The Return of Prime Stage Mystery Theatre

October 7th, 2021

“It is of the highest importance in the art of detection to be able to recognize out of a number of facts which are incidental and which are vital.”

The above advice comes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes and the father of modern detective fiction. And it will be good advice to keep in mind as Prime Stage Mystery Theatre launches its third season today (Tuesday, October 7) with an all-new five-part mystery titled “A Trap Full of Monsters.”

Here’s the synopsis:

Crucial pieces of stage equipment are missing from the Frankenstein set at the New Towne Theatre.

Some players suspect the culprit is the New Towne ghost or some other malevolent presence lurking in the shadows beneath the stage.

Fortunately, master sleuth August LaFleur is in town to record a documentary about the New Towne’s previous mysteries. Unfortunately, he wants you to solve this new puzzle … and he expects you to do it while the documentary crew records.

And so … as camera’s roll, you must set about following clues that involve trap doors, a devil’s portal, and a roster of eccentric characters – some of whom may not be what they seem.

Twists and counter-twists ensue, ultimately leading to a surprising revelation that will once again prove “stories are everywhere.” 

As with the previous seasons, each episode will conclude with a question or story challenge, and you are invited to “practice the art of detection” by chiming in via the contact page at the Prime Stage website.  Alternately, you can respond to posts that that Prime Stage and I will be placing on Facebook and Twitter … or by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post.

As with past seasons, episodes of “A Trap Full of Monsters” will feature some of the responses we receive along with behind-the-scenes info on Prime Stage’s upcoming productions: Karloff and Frankenstein.

[Click here to read about Prime Stage’s decision to move the premiere of Frankenstein to fall 2022.]

New episodes of “A Trap Full of Monsters” will be released each Thursday through November 4, the day before Prime Stage presents its preview of Karloff: The Man and the Monster at Pittsburgh’s New Hazlett Theatre.

Click the player below to start the mystery. I’ll meet you there!