By Terrance Sowells Kemp
In todays world we see social media everywhere we go. Social media has become such a prominent factor in everyones lives that many different brands have found some way to incorporate it into their products, especially television and news networks. One area that we have not seen social media be used in a prominent way is in the theater.
We have all heard of the popular broadway show that has taken the world by storm, Hamilton. We see our friends and celebrities raving about how great the show is on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Currently the hashtag #BoycottHamilton is currently trending on Twitter. But Hamilton or any other Broadway show has mad an attempt to truly take advantage of it. That is, until now.
A new musical has been added to Broadway, called Dear Evan
Hansen. In Dear Evan Hansen social media is very prominent role in the events of the story. 17 year old outcast Even Hansen, played by Pitch Perfect‘s Ben Platt, is wrongly characterized as the sole friend of another student who has recently committed suicide. Through fake emails, YouTube videos and Tweets, Evan Hansen is able to fabricate a relationship with his deceased classmate in order to gain popularity.
The backdrop of Dear Evan Hansen is made up of oversized phones and computer screens with tweets as the characters react to the musical numbers and events of the musical. The stage is somewhat minimalistic compared to other musicals and stage plays.
The play is ultimately about how social media is able to sway opinions, change circumstances and spark connections in both good and bad ways. The story shows how social media can turn lies into truths and losers into heroes.
Not only does Dear Evan Hansen revolve around social media, it also uses it as a means of promotion. The musicals producer, Stacey Mindich, has admitted that she hasn’t spent a lot on marketing and that the musical mostly relies on word-of-mouth of it’s viewers. She even set up a “Influencer Night” during previews where she invited Silicon Valley executives and other digital tastemakers to gain both feedback and to discuss online strategy for the future.
The show has already gained great reviews and has been endorsed by celebrities before it’s official opening on Broadway.
“As ‘Hamilton’ Rules Broadway’s Social Media, ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Digs Deeper.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/leeseymour/2016/05/17/as-hamilton-rules-broadways-social-media-dear-evan-hansen-digs-deeper/#2ddfa6e91d6d>.
Takiff, Jonathan. “Gizmo Guy: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Is Theater’s Take on Social Media.” Philly.com. N.p., 29 May 2016. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20160529_Gizmo_Guy___Dear_Evan_Hansen__is_theater_s_take_on_social_media.html>.
Isherwood, Charles. “Review: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Puts a Twist on Teenage Angst.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 01 May 2016. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/theater/review-dear-evan-hansen-puts-a-twist-on-teenage-angst.html>.
Paulson, Michael. “Second Stage Adds ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ To Spring Season.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 13 Aug. 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/13/second-stage-adds-dear-evan-hansen-to-spring-season/>.