We love Broadway, so of course we love all documentaries that give us an insider’s view of how a show is put together and anything else that’s going on backstage. Here are some of our absolute favorites:
1. ‘Every Little Step’
This riveting documentary, which highlights the road to the Broadway revival of “A Chorus Line,” offers a great inside look at the audition process. Get it on DVD on Amazon, or watch it on YouTube and Google Play.
2. ‘ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway’
This documentary bills itself as “going behind the curtain to capture the most controversial, passionate, risky and high-profile Broadway season in decades.” It highlights the ups and downs of four amazing musicals: “Wicked,” “Avenue Q,” “Taboo” and “Caroline or Change.” Get the DVD on Amazon or via Netflix, or watch it on YouTube.
3. ‘Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened’
Directed by Lonny Price, this documentary showcases Sondheim’s flop musical “Merrily We Roll Along,” which opened in 1981 and closed after only 16 performances. Not only does it document a unique audition process in which a bunch of very young Broadway newcomers are cast, but it also shows how the performers dealt with newfound fame and failure. This show influenced the trajectory of the rest of their lives, with some leaving the business entirely and others going on to become well-known stars. You can currently stream it on Netflix.
4. ‘Broadway Idiot’
5. ‘Annie: It’s the Hard-Knock Life, From Script to Stage’
Originally airing on PBS, this documentary delves into the most recent revival of this beloved show and its journey to Broadway. It showcases the casting process for all the orphans and is a great inside look for parents or children who want to get into the business. Watch it on YouTube.
6. ‘Broadway’s New Annie: Search for a Star’
Similar to the documentary above, this film documents the casting of the 1997 revival of “Annie.” It was originally aired as a 20/20 special but consequently became controversial because the girl cast didn’t actually end up staying with the show to open on Broadway. Regardless, this documentary is yet another very real insider look at the casting process, with no frills. Watch it on YouTube.
7. ‘Life After Tomorrow’
This is another “Annie” documentary, but instead of highlighting the show’s beginnings, it revisits the now-adult orphans and others from the original production to find out how the show influenced their lives and careers. It shows how such an early experience with success onstage can influence your choice of whether to say in the business as an adult and even reveals some great and not-so-great aspects of their journey with the musical. Rent it on Amazon or Google Play, or watch it on YouTube.
8. ‘The Standbys’
This documentary focuses on three standbys (Alena Watters, Ben Crawford and Merwin Foard) and their lives as they wait to perform their standby roles in their Broadway shows. Viewers get a real look at the job of a standby and the life of a performer. Watch it on iTunes.
9. ‘Hamilton’s America’
Originally airing on PBS, this documentary gives an inside look at the creation and behind-the-scenes rehearsal process of “Hamilton.” Make sure to check it out on PBS.org, or watch your local listings for the next showing on TV.