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BWW Blog: TikTok and the Theatre World

Missing Vine? Craving some more musical theatre content during quarantine? Wanting to connect with other theatre fans? Let me introduce you to a little app called TikTok. For those who may be unfamiliar with more recent social media applications, TikTok is a video-sharing social network that enables users to upload videos of up to one minute and reach out to millions of people around the world. Users can use different audios to lip-sync along to, which has led to different songs from musicals becoming popular in the mainstream.

And it's not just songs like "Don't Lose Your Head" from Six and "What I Know Now" from Beetlejuice. Theatre kids have emerged on TikTok with thousands of videos related to their love for shows, sharing their opinions and posting about funny moments. For those who simply wish to watch content instead of creating it, there are plenty of videos to choose from. With names like "Tik Toks for bored theatre kids," "tik toks only fellow theatre kids are allowed to laugh at," and "theatre tik toks to watch when your musical is canceled," YouTube compilations of theatre-themed TikToks have become quite popular, showing up in many people's recommended videos.

Theatre fans from all walks of life have published videos to express their love for the craft. Some choose to dress up in costume and lip-sync to their favorite songs, while others prefer to poke fun at stereotypes like the cast of a musical singing in a diner after their performance or the tired director during tech week. A few even use the platform as a way to vent about their lives, talking about things like their Playbill collections and how their shows have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But it's not just theatre fans who are making TikToks. One show, in particular, Beetlejuice, managed to capitalize on the popularity of social media with the help of Presley Ryan. As an original cast member of the show, Presley has been a way for Beetlejuice to connect with a younger audience as she is only sixteen years old. She has been publishing TikToks for quite a long time, even encouraging other cast members like Alex Brightman (Beetlejuice) and Leslie Kritzer (Delia) to join her. Some of her more popular TikToks show her in costume with some of the other actors while others are more about her life as a professional actor in general. It is even thought that Beetlejuice's TikToks lead to higher ticket sales, but that is unconfirmed.

Of course, if there are theatre kids, there are bootlegs. Dozens of accounts have been created with the purpose of sharing clips from videos taken from YouTube or other video-streaming sites. There aren't full bootlegs on the site, but some use TikTok to send each other links to the full recordings after posting a few minute-long clips. I'm not going to go into the whole "bootleg discourse" in this article (that's for another day), but I will say that the clips posted on TikTok have given me the chance to see bits of some of my favorite shows that have been closed for quite a long time.

Ultimately, TikTok has become a place where theatre kids can express themselves and share their love for theatre while shows are shut down around the world. Whether it's posting clips from shows or sharing opinions, "musical theatre kid TikTok" is a place where like-minded individuals can connect over their shared passions. And who doesn't love a bit of discourse about challenges deciding which shows are the best?

As a bonus, here are some of my favorite theatre-related TikTok accounts!

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From This Author Student Blogger: Kat Mokrynski