December 7, 1997
Stage One Plays Star In New Firm's Videos
By Judith Egerton
Globalstage wants to entertain families by delivering a stage production to your home.
Not live, of course. On videotape.
The San Francisco company, with the help of a BBC film crew, is taping the world's best theater productions for children. Leading off Globalstage's first theater series are Frankenstein and Pinocchio, created and performed by Louisville's own Stage One.
It's quite an honor, said Moses Goldberg, producing director of Stage One.
Working with a film crew from London's BBC was exciting and challenging, he said. The result is a video with integrity, Goldberg said, one that he hopes will educate young people and entice them to see plays at theaters.
Stage One's involvement with Globalstage means national attention for the theater company. Globalstage plans to advertise the videos in the New Yorker magazine, The New York Times and in newspapers on the West Coast.
Besides Stage One's two plays, Globalstage also plans to videotape outstanding productions for children in Belgium, Scotland and the Netherlands. The BBC crew will tape Macbeth, Cyrano, Still, the Drummer and A Stranger Came Ashore.
Libby Pratt, a San Francisco stock trader, created Globalstage because she wanted high-quality educational entertainment for her 11-year-old son, Preston.
Pratt's first goal was to find the best theater in the world. "I thought living in San Francisco, I could find something really great, but there wasn't something really good for children."
During her research, Stage One's name kept turning up. Ultimately, Pratt determined that the three best children's theater companies in the United States were found in Minneapolis, Seattle and Louisville.
After visiting Louisville with her son and seeing Frankenstein and a rehearsal of Pinocchio, Pratt was so "flabbergasted" by the Stage One productions that she immediately signed an agreement with Stage One to participate in Globalstage's project.
"The quality of Stage One's set and productions were incredibly high. It was very enjoyable to look at their sets, and the quality of acting was very good," she said.
The Frankenstein video, filmed by the BBC crew on Oct. 29 and 30, will be released Dec. 15.
The video includes not just the play, based on Mary Shelley's novel and adapted for the stage by Nick DiMartino, but also a trip to the Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, analysis by Elizabeth McNamer, a literature professor at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont., and a backstage peek at how the special effects for Frankenstein were accomplished.
Pinocchio, written by Goldberg with music by Scott Kasbaum, will be filmed late this month. That video, scheduled for release March 10, may also include a tour of Hillerich & Bradsby's Louisville Slugger factory on Main Street, where a wooden baseball bat, like the puppet Pinocchio, can take on a life of its own.
The cost of producing and marketing each video runs about $250,000. Pratt said Globalstage will have to sign up about 20,000 subscribers for the series of six videos to make a profit.
Although Globalstage is a calculated risk, Pratt said the endeavor is more satisfying than her stock-trading job.
She hopes that eventually she can give that up and run Globalstage full-time.
Pratt wants people to consider the theater videos as a product for the family, not just children.
"I would like people to think of us as the source for rather challenging and entertaining material," she said. "I want everyone in the family - from toddler to grandmother - to sit in front of the television and enjoy them."