At a New Producer’s Panel of The Broadway League last night, the topic was social networking and just what it could do for shows already running and those still trying to get out of the starting blocks.
No one knows more about starting their show off with some social networking than my own Ryann “Fergie” Ferguson, who works in my office by day and writes musicals by night.
Here’s what happened to VOTE! The Musical, thanks to Web 2.0, in Fergie’s own words.
One of the biggest questions we faced once our musical, VOTE!, was “done” and we had put on our first private industry only reading, was how we would be able to continue in our process of refining/work shopping it. Our answer came in the form of a new model of both getting shows produced, as well as finding material to produce.
From the beginning, we wanted to utilize the internet to reach a young audience that was right for our show. We started with a MySpace page. We posted songs and even made a music video. One of our fav cast members, Andrew Keenan Bolger, vloged about it. We made an effort to put out as much material from the show as we possibly could for critique and to build a fan base.
And we got critique. And we got a fan base. And you know what else we got? We got several offers from young aspiring producers who wanted to premiere the show at their college, community theatre or Fringe Festival! We had offers from as far as Australia and London, but ultimately, we decided to stay a little closer to home when got an offer from a young producer in Indiana named Eric Anderson, who really seemed to get what we were all about.
Eric contacted us directly about premiering the work regionally with students and creative team from the Indiana University Theatre Department. My co-writer and I saw it as a great opportunity to workshop the show during a five week rehearsal period (five weeks of rehearsal in NYC is a luxury almost no young writers/producers can afford). And we even got them to use our director!
I had a bit of separation anxiety turning over the show at this stage in its young life, but knowing that our director would be there to oversee made the process easier. And, the internet and social networks have kept us closer than we could have been just a few short years ago. We helped cast the show by watching videos of the auditions, and we’ve tracked progress and any script changes by watching frequent YouTube video postings of rehearsals.
I’m headed out there for the final two rehearsals and openings and, so far, I would recommend the experience to anyone with a show . . . and a social network.
Fergie hit the developmental lottery here. Remember her first two goals: build a fan base and get critique? She just found a way to get both of those on a bigger scale . . . while someone else is paying for it . . . while it’s all under the watchful eye of her trusted director.
The lesson? There are people out there that want to do your show, if it’s what their audience is looking for, and if it’s good. You’ve got to find them . . . and make sure they can find you. And, surprise, surprise, social networking is a great way to get discovered.
It’s happened for many a musician. It can happen to musicals.
If you’re going to be in Indiana on March 6,7 or 8th, check out VOTE! Here’s how. And look for Ferg . . . she’ll be the one that looks like a mom the day her baby quits crawling, and takes that first little step.
If any of you have sold your show on MySpace or the web, comment away and share your strategy.