Broadway blasted for recordings

“Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert” cast members Jeff Metzler and Bryan West outside the Palace Theatre.

Broadway seats are filled with crowds ready to soak up a live performance. But at some theaters, purely live music might not be part of the deal.

The Council for Living Music, a newly formed group of musicians fighting for live sound, has criticized “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” for using a taped soundtrack in lieu of filling chairs in the orchestra pit. In a campaign titled “Save Live Music on Broadway,” the Council, with the American Federation of Musicians union, accuses the musical of hiring fewer musicians to save money.

Since the show started, “Priscilla” has employed nine musicians — the Council argues that 18 is standard — and plays a tape to fill in for a strings section.

“It just seems cheap and wrongheaded. It kind of boggles my mind,” said Marshall Coid, the onstage violin soloist for “Chicago.” “It’s a terrible decision.”

“Priscilla” spokesman Adrian Bryan-Brown said the recorded pieces are “elements in the sound of the ‘Priscilla’ score that cannot be recreated by live performance.”  

“It’s not as special if it’s not live,” said Grace Harington, 19, visiting from Saskatchewan and who bought tickets for Thursday night’s performance.

Not alone in the desert

“Priscilla” is not the only musical to perform with the aid of a tape. Tony winner “Contact” was the first show to opt for taped music instead of a live orchestra. “West Side Story” was criticized for using prerecorded music instead of five musicians, who were cut from the production. Other shows, like “La Cage aux Folles,” have chosen to use smaller orchestras instead of an orchestra pit with dozens of performers.

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter


'Five Star': A coming-of-age story about Brooklyn's gang…

'Five Star' tells a coming-of-age story about Brooklyn's gang culture at the Tribeca Film Festival.


New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…


NYPD detective shoots partner: DA

A New York City Police detective was arrested early Thursday and charged with driving under the influence while on the clock.


Judge strikes down NY limits on donations to…

A federal judge on Thursday reluctantly struck down New York's limits on donations to independent political action committees as unconstitutional, potentially ushering in a new…


Championship of Collegiate a Cappella: Students who are…

Tickets to this Saturday’s International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella reportedly sold out within 11 hours of going on sale.


M.I.A. talks 'Matangi,' divinity, spontaneity and holograms

"There’s pressure for me to become a theatrical production like 'Glee,' or something" says M.I.A., "It’s like, 'the pressure’s on, bitches.'"


Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.


Rangers unlikely to change lineup, Steve Mason in…

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault wouldn't say much, but don't expect any lineup changes.


Jason Collins named to Time's 100 Most Influential…

Jason Collins was named to the list after coming out as the first openly gay player to appear in an NBA game.


Nets excited for Brooklyn fans to bring the…

Kevin Garnett has definitely used profanity while trash talking or in practices, but never to describe an entire borough.


Rangers turn up shot blocking in Game 3…

Game 3 of the Rangers-Flyers opneing round series was not a return to John Tortorella hockey.


New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.


From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.


Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.


MAC & Proenza Schouler collection unveiled

MAC Cosmetics is releasing a new collection with Proenza Schouler.