Student Blog: #musicaltheatre

My love-hate relationship with how social media has taken over the theatre industry.

By: Oct. 30, 2023
Student Blog: #musicaltheatre

As with most things, social media has been entirely integrated into the theatre industry. It’s hard to find a Broadway show that isn’t active on Instagram or TikTok. Performers have taken to social media as well to advertise and create a name for themselves. As a high school performer, I have noticed both the positive and negative effects of social media’s involvement in the theatre industry. 

One of the biggest benefits of social media is the new advertising possibilities. Musical and play advertising teams have taken to Instagram and TikTok to gain interest and followers. The new Great Gatsby musical from Paper Mill Playhouse drummed up business by posting Instagram Reels and TikToks with new songs and numbers from the show and funny moments with their starring cast. A funny sketch featuring Jeremy Jordan (Jay Gatsby) poking fun at Jordan’s famous role in the musical Newsies has racked up nearly 500,000 views on Instagram. Advertising teams have discovered that playing to younger viewers’ humor is a great way to draw in a bigger audience. Personally, the content posted from Paper Mill’s Great Gatsby has made me more excited for a new musical than I have been in a while. Plenty of other musicals have hopped on the social media bandwagon creating niche, funny content and behind-the-scenes action for their audiences. My favorite musical social media accounts include Moulin Rouge, Hamilton, and & Juliet

Social media has also given us a kind of “theatre influencer” or TikTok star for the theatre kids. Two of the most popular theatre TikTokers include JJ Nieman and Amber Ardolino. These TikTokers, now both in the cast of Back to the Future on Broadway, rose to fame by posting content about the life of a musical theatre performer. My favorite part of these two performers’ rise to fame is that both have been ensemble members and understudies for roles on Broadway. Before social media, it was typically only the show's leads that became “big names” in the theatre industry. TikTok has allowed these performers to shine a spotlight on all of the ensemble members, understudies, and swings that make up a show’s company. In fact, the content posted by performers like Nieman and Ardolino has helped me discover how much I would love to be an ensemble dancer and understudy one day. 

Social media has also had its negative effects on my theatre experience. I have noticed that social media has played a large part in my self-esteem struggles as a performer. On TikTok and Instagram, performers are easily able to post their most perfect highlights and ignore all of the mess-ups and mistakes. Social media puts a very fake filter on what it looks like to be a performer and life in general. No performer is ever going to post themselves falling out of a turn or having a voice crack. They are only good moments and the moments where they feel confident. While nothing is wrong with this, I have fallen into the trap of letting what others post on social media determine my confidence as a performer. I often feel worse about my performance and abilities after scrolling through TikTok or Instagram, and I am positive I am not alone in this experience. 

While social media has given so much to the theatre industry, I have also noticed the negative effects it has had on my life. The integration of social media and Broadway has opened so many doors, but it comes with its unique challenges. I am excited to see how the theatre community continues to use social media to its advantage and observe any future changes this might bring to our industry. 



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