Trade magazine Playbill is creating a huge online database for theatre productions, similar to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).
A beta version of PlaybillVault.com was launched Thursday, with information on over 10,000 Broadway shows and 120,000 actors, creative teams and crew members.
IMDB is used by people around the world to learn more about individual movies and stars. Playbill Vault is similarly comprehensive, with awards information, cast histories of long-running shows and background of both theatres and productions. It is searchable by title, person, theatre or by season.
So people looking for information on a play like Private Lives, which was revived Nov. 17 in a production starring Paul Gross and Kim Cattrall, can also discover that playwright Noel Coward himself played the male lead in the original 1931 version, opposite Gertrude Lawrence.
Images of the old playbills appear where they are available.
So far the database looks at Broadway, from 1930 to the present.
Over the next few months Playbill will bring in Off-Broadway content, earlier Broadway history (from the early 1900s on) and Broadway grosses starting from 1986, but there’s no way yet to trace the path of a show outside of New York.