This week is the opening of Fighting Chance’s production of Rent and the local buzz has been deafening. That’s due in part to the overwhelming popularity of Jonathan Larson’s rock musical and also in part to the marketing savvy of director Ryan Mooney.
Mooney has really embraced social media as it applies to local theatre and potential audiences. At my last count, Mooney and Fighting Chance have used Facebook groups, a Rent In Vancouver blog, a dedicated Rent twitter-feed (as well as many more twittering cast members and production staff), and a YouTube video channel. The Rent cast has also been seen making numerous appearances around town including at the Rosedale on Robson, the Oasis Lounge on Davie, Gayday at Playland, and today at the Vancouver Pride parade.
Most of what theatre people and publicists are currently doing with social media is still untested waters and much of it is a learning process of what works and what doesn’t.
I’d like to take a moment to focus on the Rent In Vancouver blog, which has done a lot of things right. First off, it wasn’t an afterthought, or a mere going through the motions. The blog was created in April before the show had even been cast. Since then there have been regular entries about the audition process and personal posts from much of the cast and production team.
Early bird ticket buyers were entered into a draw to see a Rent rehearsal, and blog commenters were entered for a chance to win tickets to opening night. Fighting Chance has also announced that a limited amount of day-of cheaper tickets will be available by lottery (click here for details).
These types of publicity strategies may very well be the future of theatre in Vancouver, and I’m sure that other local PR types are paying close attention to Fighting Chance (and if they’re not they should be.)
The Canadian regional theatre premiere of Rent starts previews August 4th. Opening night is August 6th and it plays through the 23rd, at Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver, BC.