Theatre on DVD

Theatre on DVD

Over the years a lot of Broadway plays and musicals have been recorded for Broadcast, then released on DVD. Some had made it to local commercial release, but mostly when I've looked at the DVDs of Broadway shows available online or in specialist Show Music shops, Ive been frustrated by the fact that due to the international zoning system, my player wouldn't play them. I was delighted recently to discover several musicals, released in the local format, by local company Umbrella Entertainment.

Among the filmed shows I've caught up on are David Hasselhoff in Jekyll and Hyde (a role he took over well into the Broadway run), the all star concert recording of Follies, with its behind the scenes introduction, Smokey Joe's Café, Sondheim musical revue Putting it Together and The Rat Pack (a West End show I’d never heard of). The Umbrella catalogue also includes the American Film Theatre series.

Managing Director Jeff Harrison and Marketing Manager Mathew King filled me in on Umbrella Entertainment.

Founded in 2001, Umbrella Entertainment is an independent, Australian-owned distribution company run by expert staff with a true passion for feature film, television, music and documentary content. Umbrella has bought over 1500 releases to the market in Australia and New Zealand.
What led Umbrella to release theatrical DVDs, which no-one else obviously saw local potential in? Is there a personal passion for theatre involved?

Everyone at Umbrella has a strong love for film, music and music performance, and theatre-related content is an area that we are very passionate about.

How do you choose / source your theatre-related releases?

As a small, dedicated team with a love for this content, this leads to us to look for theatre-related releases. We also receive feedback from consumers about particular titles of interest. In addition we source titles which we are aware of due to their popularity.

Is there a strong local market for them?

Yes, they are popular with specific target market in mind. We sell to educational institutions, theatre groups and general consumers.

What theatrical releases are coming up?
Our forthcoming releases include the Gilbert and Sullivan Collection: an 11 DVD box set featuring 12 Operettas (released 14th April), Aria: 10 famous directors make 10 short films about famous operas, directors include Robert Altman, Bruce Beresford and Jean-Luc Godard (available 12th May) and Topsy Turvy, a film about the making of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Mikado, starring Jim Broadbent (available 9th June).

Neil Litchfield