Messing Around With Neil Patrick Harris, Broadway Divas Up Close: The Top Playbill Videos of 2023 | Playbill

Lists Messing Around With Neil Patrick Harris, Broadway Divas Up Close: The Top Playbill Videos of 2023

We created over 100 original videos this year. Here are some of our favorites, including one that received over 43 million views.

Neil Patrick Harris, Stephanie J. Block, and Solea Pfeiffer Ethan Treiman

Hello readers! My name is Ethan; I’m the Videographer/Video Editor here at Playbill. I’m behind the camera for many of the videos you watch on this site. 

I’m wrapping up my first year on the job, and Editor in Chief Diep Tran suggested I do a roundup of all my favorite video shoots this year. While there are dozens of shoots to pick from (I think approaching 100), below are 10 videos that were significant to me. A couple of them went pretty viral, others gave me the opportunity to be in the same room with a Broadway hero of mine. 

In every one of them, I witnessed an incredible performance up close (and lived to tell the tale—and edit the video together). Hope you enjoy!

Stephanie J. Block Singing "As If We Never Said Goodbye" 

This was my first out-of-office shoot for Playbill, just a couple days after I started in January. I got to stand 10 feet away from Stephanie J. Block while she sang “As if We Never Said Goodbye,” which was so powerful that my entire body (and soul) literally vibrated. I think I didn’t shut up about that shoot for like a week. I also met Aaron Tveit there, which was like, woah.

Jade McLeod Singing "You Oughta Know"

Jade McLeod of the Jagged Little Pill national tour is so seriously talented and their performance of “You Oughta Know” was devastating. The video begins with Jade half-cast in shadow; the LED stick lights on either side give off a Tron: Legacy-esque vibe that, for some reason, worked for me. Then things get pretty lit (literally) when the overhead lights turn red.

A Viral Life of Pi video

In addition to creating videos for, I also make many of the TikTok videos and Instagram reels that you see on Playbill's social accounts. For the press day of Life of Pi on Broadway, the team for that show put together an incredible live demo at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Or really, three live demos, in which production elements—puppets/props, then lights/sound/projections—were added each time to the same scene. The consistency of the actors’ movements between those takes inspired me to layer the demos on top of each other. 

I guess the internet liked this video because it has over 43 million views, and is Playbill’s most watched video, on TikTok.

Playing Around With Neil Patrick Harris

In this very fun social video on the Peter Pan Goes Wrong opening night red carpet, we asked the cast to monologue earnestly while our equipment (and red carpet team) purposefully malfunctioned. Everyone in that show were such great sports, especially Neil, whose performance of, “How could you ask me that??” was so convincing that his own rep thought he was seriously peeved.

Dancin’ With the Dancin' Dancers

You're always learning new things at Playbill. Case in point: This video was my first time using a handheld gimbal (camera stabilizer). Full disclosure: I didn’t really know how to calibrate it. Luckily, the slightly jittering camera gave the shoot a free-hand style that I thought really suited this frenetic dance performance. (Though afterward, my boss said, “We should get Ethan a stabilizer to use for these shoots… 👀")

The Playbill Songwriter Series, Featuring Azul

One of my big video projects at Playbill is our monthly Songwriter Series, where we spotlight up-and-coming musical theatre writers. This day-long shoot is always a joy to do because I get to be exposed to some truly talented people before they become big names. In particular, I loved with the Azul team (Melis Aker, Jacinta Clusellas, and Tatiana Pandiani). Not only because they handled all the audio mixing, but also, their level of talent and professionalism across the board made the video shoot such a breeze. Not to mention the amazing music and performances (shout out to Katerina McCrimmon, who’s now Fanny Brice in the Funny Girl tour)!

My First Playbill Pride

I didn’t think I’d spend my first Pride in New York City on a float with Joan Grande (Ariana Grande’s mom) while holding a video camera (as part of Playbill's annual Pride celebrations). But…that’s working at Playbill, for ya! Can't wait for next year, Joan!

Launching My Life in the Theatre

This year, Playbill staff writer Margaret Hall and I launched a new monthly video series called My Life in the Theatre, where we have theatre icons walk us through their career, using a Playbill binder. That means I've been able to spend an afternoon with Nathan Lane, Chip Zien, Priscilla Lopez....I know, working at Playbill is so hard sometimes!

Anyway, we filmed the Jeanine Tesori episode of My Life in the Theatre on Orange Sky Day 2023 (a.k.a Wildfire Apocalypse Day). And it still came out looking great—in large part due our then-burgeoning collaboration with Alchemical Studios. Plus, four days after this shoot, Jeanine became the most-Tony-awarded female composer in Broadway history. 

I Was Almost Trampled at the 2023 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 

OK, this was nuts. First, Playbill send the entire editorial team to the Edinburgh Fringe this year. And then, my boss told me that I was going and filming the 2023 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a showcase of military marching bands from around the world. Straightforward assignment, right? Wrong! 

The Tattoo team put us videographers in a cozy section on the ground floor (!) of this giant military showcase. These very well-dressed, very intimidating people with guns then started marching across the long field in our direction. It’s great footage, and they’re…still walking towards me. And not turning. They’re getting closer. 30 feet. 15 feet. They’re, like, 6 feet away and about to crash right into me before they finally turn left. Cue long sigh of relief.

Solea Pfeiffer Deserves All the “Flowers”

This was another time one of my videos kind of went viral on social media this year. Here are three takeaways from this shoot:

  1. “Flowers” is my favorite song from Hadestown. I could not wait for this shoot.
  2. Solea Pfeiffer came in ready to emote and certainly delivered.
  3. Lin Manuel-Miranda commented on our Instagram post about this video: “Holy SHIT. 🔥🔥🔥” 

P.S. Our freelance sound engineer @johnnywithanh made excellent work of the vocal mix.

That's all for now! I'll be capturing more performances (and more shenanigans) to share with you in 2024. Stay tuned!

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