The internet has become a temple for musical theatre writers, performers, and audiences alike. Discovering artists and shows and music is easier than ever through things like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and now websites like NewMusicalTheatre.com. In the golden-age of musical theatre, you could pretty much get a mediocre show up at a young age, it could flop, and you’d get a couple more chances. It was much more forgiving then. It’s so difficult for writers, now, to get performances and productions and even readings. This is where the solution is, it would seem. Performers can find their songs, writers can find their performers, and producers can find their writers. Rumor has it, the producers of SMASH found their writers of the fictional (or not so fictional) musical “Hit List” through YouTube. Just search YouTube and you can find hundreds of incredibly talented artists writing and performing brilliant material.
It would seem that writers are now even paying homage to this new cyber-home for musical theatre. I recently started noticing just how many new shows and songs are using social media sites and apps to hang their stories on. More and more shows have songs that take place on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, or at the very least, use their language to tell the story. Each one of these sites has a language all its own, which makes for some really interesting character ideas for musical theatre writers. Just by using the language of Twitter, you immediately have a character in mind, be it the character of the site itself, or of the person tweeting. Gaby Alter and Iatmar Moses wrote “The Twitter Song” for their recent musical comedy at Second Stage, Nobody Loves You, one of the highlights of the show. Rory O’Malley owned a pretty brilliant character song told in the language of twitter. Also at Second Stage, Quiera Alegria Hudes’ brilliant Pulitzer winning play Water by the Spoonful featured entire scenes taking place in a chatroom.
Musical theatre has always reflected pop culture and communicative trends, particularly focussing on the younger generation. Just look at “Telephone Hour” from Bye Bye Birdie.
The theatre community has really latched onto something powerful in social media.
Check out these awesome musicals that are written for and presented online!
Written by Michelle Elliott & Danny Larsen
Written by Michael E. Gibson and Dewayne Perkins
Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog
Written by Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen
And… though it’s not a musical, it’s pretty spectacular.
It Could be Worse
Written by Mitchell Jarvis and Wesley Taylor