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Student Blog: The New Era of Fandom

Let’s face it, there’s no better fan than a Broadway fan.

Let's face it, there's no better fan than a Broadway fan. From my experience, the reason for that is because the artists are so approachable that we feel like we really matter for them and are not just like one in a million fans of a Hollywood star. Stage door, fan mail, events at Shubert Alley - the starter pack of an OG Broadway fan. However, things have been changing, and not just because of the pandemic. And that was one of the topics discussed at the BroadwayCon Industry Day, produced by Situation.

Student Blog: The New Era of Fandom Four professionals Nick White (Facebook), Felicia Fitzpatrick (Playbill), Greg Nobile (Seaview), and Catherine Halaby (TikTok), got together to explore The New Era of Fandom. They began saying that Broadway fans have always been passionate and very engaged. However, now, they are not only consuming, but they are also creating content, especially over the last year. With TikTok's Duet feature, users see the content and build on top of it. I have three words for you: Ratatouille the Musical.

Of course, Ratatouille was something very unusual, but it proved how powerful the voice of Broadway fans is when combined with talent. And that actually blurs the line of who's a pro and who's not, closing that gap that existed for a long time. This user-generated content assists platforms like Playbill and shows' accounts and serves as a portfolio for up-and-coming artists.

Student Blog: The New Era of Fandom
Creating Ratatouille the TikTok Musical

According to the speakers, fans are a self-contained micro-community. They used Fetches, the Mean Girls' official Facebook group, as an example. But there are many other popular accounts on Instagram, with thousands of followers.

They talked about using social media as a way to connect with audiences that do not always have easy access to Broadway shows. And I can speak to that: being from Brazil, I developed my love for musical theatre through social media, digging into all the Newsies fan accounts, and reading BroadwayWorld, and every single day. And now, here I am, actually writing for BroadwayWorld!

In this topic, the speakers also discussed the fact that sometimes social will lead to ticket sales, but sometimes its sole purpose is to drive community engagement, which all of them agreed is extremely important for the livelihood of Broadway.

According to them, the accessibility goes way beyond creating new audiences. It generates access to the talent as well. They stated the importance of engaging the talent in grassroots marketing campaigns - compensating them for their voices and time, of course. Because at the end of the day, people are on social media to connect with other people.

The speakers said that theatre is embracing digital now more than ever, and it probably won't go backward. One of them even said that instead of having out-of-town tryouts, we might start seeing that move to the digital setting. However, they all agree that there is no replacement for in-person performances.

Finally, they discussed what the future of the Broadway fandom would look like. Taking into consideration that the one-on-one stage door experience might not return as soon as theatres reopen, Facebook is developing a platform, like a messenger room, where you can gather the audience who attended that performance in a digital room and have some of the talents join that space. I wonder, though, if that will look more like a talk-back than a stage door experience...

In conclusion, Broadway fans are passionate, participatory, nostalgic, and loyal. And no matter how long we stay without theatre, we will always be there supporting the art form.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Isabella Schiavon