The Future of Broadway

Broadway! A place where for hundreds of dollars a ticket
you can see your favorite stars sing and dance right in front of your very eyes. There’s nothing quite like the magic of
live theatre. And while Broadway has certainly changed over
the years, fan interaction has remained a vital component of the theatergoing experience. In fact, we’ re in the midst of a Broadway
revolution. ♪ For the first time I’m thinking past tomorrow.♪ ♪ And I am not throwing away my shot.♪ ♪ I am not throwing away my shot.♪ No, not that one. We’ll get to that later. Anyway, at its most basic level, fan interaction
is essential to theatre. You don’t have much of a show without an
audience. Audiences shape each and every performance. How much applause they give or what jokes
they laugh at or even if they get up and leave halfway through can drastically change a show
night to night. This is also true on a larger scale. And we did it in several readings, and it
always got a sort of nice response, but I just could tell that it wasn’t really landing
the way I felt that the song needed to land for the character. People would come up afterwards and they would
talk about songs that they liked, and that song never came up. And um, so that wasn’t a good sign. Audience reactions cause directors to make
changes to a show during out of town tryouts or previews, or even sometimes during the
run of the show. And of course, audiences ultimately decide
if a show stays open or not. But even further than that, Broadway theatre
is an art that thrives on direct contact. You probably won’t run into your favorite
movie star at your local grocery store, but if you come to New York City to see a show,
you just might run into your favorite Broadway star Club: Margo Channing! Drats, I’ve been recognized. Even Lin Manuel Miranda takes the subway. After shows you’ll see lines of fans waiting
at the stage door to talk to their favorite actors, get their playbills signed, or take
a selfie. But none of this is new. Even before smart phones or camera phones
people were snapping pics at the stage door. So, what’s changed? What’s created this revolution? The internet! And most importantly, Twitter! Yes, Twitter. The social media platform where you can post
140 characters at a time is revolutionizing Broadway. To see when this revolution began, we have
to travel back to the distant year of 2009. Twitter had only existed for three years and
was rapidly gaining popularity. At the same time the new rock musical Next
Normal was playing eight shows a week at the Booth Theater. It told the story of a mother with bipolar
disorder and its effects on her family. Next to Normal decided to take a brand-new
approach to promoting the show by creating a serialized version specifically made for
Twitter. From May 12th to June 7th, the entire show
was posted one line at a time with added thoughts from the characters. This culminated in the show’s creators Brian
Yorkey and Tom Kitt writing a new song using the suggestions of their twitter followers. Unfortunately, I can’t find the original
twitter performance. However, the tweets chronicling the writing
of the new song and the original bio reading “Next to Normal 1st Broadway Show to Perform
on Twitter” are still available. The Next to Normal twitter account garnered
hundreds of thousands of followers and tons of media attention during the run of the show. But more than that, it was the first Broadway
show to see the potential in Twitter. They were taking fan interaction beyond the
traditional and feeding the audience daily with new content. They used what could be seen as the limitations
of the platform to their benefit to keep their growing audience captivated even after the
curtains closed. Not only did this create significant buzz
around the show and probably generate ticket sales, it also helped the fans of the show
to meaningfully interact with the material in a unique way that had ever been possible
before. The legacy of this publicity campaign lingers
on in the Broadway twitterverse. Today, practically every Broadway production
promotes their show on twitter. But no show has a greater Twitter presence
than Hamilton. ♪ What’s your name man?♪ ♪ Alexander Hamilton.♪ Hamilton, the behemoth of Broadway, the international
phenomenon, has also taken over Twitter. Hamilton was the most tweeted about Broadway
show in 2015, the year that it opened, and it continues to have a strong Twitter presence. At this time, the official account has over
750,000 followers and frequently likes and retweets posts from fans. Of course, I’d be remiss to talk about Hamilton
and Twitter without talking about its creator and original star Lin-Manuel Miranda. ♪ Hi, my name is Lin-Miranda.♪ ♪ I know you don’t know who I am, but I wore
these pants and I’m willing to dance♪ ♪ like an idiot if you just gimme the chance.♪ Honestly, he’s the main inspiration for
this video. Currently, Lin Manuel-Miranda has over two
and a half million twitter followers. That’s more than three times the amount
of the Hamilton official account. And just like Next to Normal, he’s got the
media buzzing. But it’s not just the number of followers
Miranda has that makes him, in my opinion, a Twitter icon. It’s the way that he tweets. Lin-Manuel is constantly on twitter. He has posted over 56,000 tweets. Of the top twenty most popular twitter accounts,
the only one that has posted more than him is CNN Breaking News. Approximately 2/3 of Miranda’s tweets are
fan engagement. He consistently replies to his massive
fanbase on Twitter and he also takes the time to share facts and stories about his work. In fact, Miranda’s tweets were so influential
that they even got turned into a book. It’s called G’morning, G’night!: Little
Pep Talks for Me & You and it’s a compilation of the daily affirmations that he tweets. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that
arguably the most popular man on Broadway also has a very strong twitter presence. Miranda knows the best way to interact with
his audience and get them interested in his work Whether his tweets are silly jokes or serious
appeals, he knows how to engage his fans, especially young fans. I’m not saying that Hamilton wouldn’t
be successful without Twitter, but I think it certainly keeps fans coming back for more. For young people who have grown up with the
internet, having that direct contact with their favorite Broadway stars can really fan
the flames of their passion. Hang on, this is the hard one. ♪ Any Tweet I can Tweet they’ll retweet faster,
they’ll retweet any Tweet faster than yours.♪ Go! (Audience cheers) Come on fansie Elizabeth, I’m counting on you. (Audience laughs) Before, fan interaction was exclusive to people who could afford to see the shows or lived
in the New York City area. Now, twitter has made it so that anyone with
an internet connection can immediately contact the people they look up to. Just imagine what it would have been like
if Stephen Sondheim was on Twitter forty years ago Fans wouldn’t have had to wait for him to
publish a book about his work to find out his thoughts on their favorite lyrics. With twitter, they could have just asked. This morning, the Connor Project page, it
only had 56 people following it. How many does it have now? 4,582
16,239 I don’t understand, what happened? You did! On stage, social media is being integrated
into the plots of shows like Dear Evan Hansen. In this show, the main character Evan’s speech
goes viral at the end of the first act and leads to an online campaign. Before the show, throughout the performance,
and during intermission screens on stage display updating social media feeds. Behind the scenes, twitter has also played
a role in the development of shows. Even though fan interaction isn’t the only
area of Broadway that Twitter has changed, I think it’s the it’s the area that’s
been the most impacted. Fifteen years ago, what way did fans have
to interact with the shows they loved if they couldn’t be there in person? Letters? It used to be only a select few who could
garner the time and attention of Broadway stars And it was near impossible to interact directly
with composers, directors, and other members of a show’s creative team. But now, these resources of time and attention
are distributed more equally. In my opinion, it’s helped create a theatre
community that is more diverse and more engaged. You no longer have to have a certain amount
of money or be a certain age or live in a certain place to truly belong to the Broadway community. All you need is a twitter account.

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