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Student Blog: Let's Drop Some BARS – Beatboxing, Acting, Rapping, Singing

A hip-hop music theatre-based improv show which combines classic music theatre with contemporary skills in beatboxing and rapping

Every spring semester for the past 15 years, Baldwin Wallace Music Theatre produces a show in partnership with Cleveland's Playhouse Square (the second-largest performing arts center in the US after the Lincoln Center in NY).

For us, Arts Management students, this is our capstone project. We are part of the show's producing team, split into Marketing, Education, and Programing/Operations. Each group has a mentor from Playhouse Square. A member of each team, including yours truly, explains our duties in this podcast episode of Coarticulation (aka the BARS podcast).

BARS stands for Beatboxing, Acting, Rapping, Singing, and was conceived by BWMT alum Jay Ellis, or Jellis, a member of Lin Manuel Miranda's Freestyle Love Supreme academy.

Student Blog: Let's Drop Some BARS – Beatboxing, Acting, Rapping, Singing
BARS logo

BARS is a hip-hop music theatre-based improv show which combines classic music theatre with contemporary skills in beatboxing and rapping. The culturally diverse and stylistically dynamic cast will pilot this interactive audience experience through the world of improvisational sketch comedy while creating scenes and songs (both lyrics and music) on the spot. Each show will present a unique combination of characters, scenes, and material using audience input.

If you want to be part of this exciting new production, it will stream live this weekend! Get your tickets here!

Let me tell you, creating a brand for a show that doesn't have a set plot or storyline is kind of a challenge! This was the first task for the marketing team. We had brainstorm meetings with Jay to really understand his view on BARS. Something that was always brought up was the juxtaposition of classic and contemporary art. Picture a ballerina in pointe but doing a breakdance move. Or a graffiti art framed on the Louvre. That was our starting point to the final product that you see around social media.

Student Blog: Let's Drop Some BARS – Beatboxing, Acting, Rapping, Singing
Example post for social media

Our next challenge was to educate our audience about the show. That's where the Education and Marketing teams combine efforts. While Education created a podcast, a series of teaching videos, stories explaining the history of beatboxing, acting, rapping, singing, Marketing was responsible for delivering this content into most fitted platforms. Since this is still a virtual production, the Education team has also created an interactive virtual lobby experience, with a rap name generator, make your own rap, and more.

Next up, get the word out! Our team has created many email campaigns using Playhouse Square's lists of previous ticket buyers, as well as the Conservatory's newsletter subscribers. Because social media is our main outlet, we featured all cast members in a Meet The Company stories series, in which each performer would slate their name and improv rap around a word given to them on the spot. All trailers and graphics were posted to either BWMT, BW's Conservatory, or Playhouse Square socials.

One week before the show, we organized BARS Mic-Drop, an open rehearsal to the BW community, where we had a glimpse of what the actual performance will look like. It was very interactive, and two lucky students won free tickets for the show!

So get ready to drop some BARS streaming live this weekend at playhousesquare.org. Don't miss out on contributing to the show's plot with your suggestions! You might even get a song about you! Get your tickets here!

Student Blog: Let's Drop Some BARS – Beatboxing, Acting, Rapping, Singing
BARS Mic-Drop event
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