Tag Archives: Social Media

Some shows are better, bigger (Guest Post)

Today’s post is written by guest blogger, Rebecca Coleman.  To view Musicals in Vancouver’s response, check out our guest post at the Art of the Business blog

I love independent theatre. It’s where I live, it’s where my heart is, and it’s where I make my living.

But I also love theatre in general, and, while I tend to hang out in the indie scene, I’ll go see pretty much anything going.

A few months back, I went to see Les Misérables at The Arts Club, and a couple of weeks ago, Rent at Presentation House.

First, you have to understand that these two musicals hold significant sentimental value for me. Les Miz was my favorite musical for a long, long time, and it was only replaced in my heart when Rent came along. I knew all the words in Les Miz, and used to daydream about being Éponine, even learning “On My Own” for auditions. I saw a touring version of it, about 10 years ago at the Q.E., and was blown away by the spectacle.

Then, in 1996, while watching the Tonys, I saw the original Broadway cast of Rent singing “Seasons of Love” and “La Vie Bohème,” and I was instantly smitten. I’ve now seen Rent four times, including once at the Nederlander Theatre in New York, where it ran for 12 years.

The Nederlander Theatre in New York City

The Nederlander Theatre in NYC.

So, I’m pretty familiar with both of those shows. So, seeing them done in a smaller theatre, on a smaller scale, was a very interesting experience.

And I felt like they were missing something. Don’t get me wrong—both productions were excellent—big hearted, beautifully sung, and with strong production values. But because of money and size of venue, some of the big special effects were cut.

It makes a huge visual impact to see the barricade in Les Mis slowly rotating into view, strewn with dead bodies. The Arts Club production did have a barricade, and it did move, but with more of a pulling-out-a-drawer motion. The impression it made was not as strong. Similarly, Javert’s suicide was not as impactful (sorry about that choice of words).

I had a similar experience seeing Rent. I missed Mimi howling “Out Tonight” as she straddles both staircase railings and slides down, and Joanne’s first arrival on a motorcycle.

Maybe it’s just my sentimentality speaking, but maybe some things are better, bigger.

Now, anyone know of a production of Miss Saigon happening? I got a hankering to see a helicopter land on stage…

Rebecca Coleman is a freelance theatre publicist here in Vancouver. Her roster includes Touchstone Theatre, Ruby Slippers, Radix, Leaky Heaven Circus, Presentation House, Capilano University’s Theatre Department, and Itsazoo. In addition, she does social media training, and has published an e-book on the topic titled Getting Started with Social Networking for Artists and Arts Organizations. Her blog is The Art of the Business.

Rebecca Coleman

Rebecca Coleman

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Rent: Opening Week Buzz

Fighting Chance Production's cast of Rent

Fighting Chance Production's cast of Rent

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.