Stuck in the Suburbs: Connecting with Musical Theatre

Growing up in suburban Iowa, I always felt out of touch with the new musical theatre that was constantly surfacing in the larger cities with a more prominent theatre scene. Whenever the Tony Awards would roll around, I felt very far from the action because I had no way to fully experience the shows. It took me a while to realize that new works of theatre don’t just appear on the “Great White Way” and that there are many ways to stay in touch with rising theatre trends without having to live in a huge theatre city.

We are extremely fortunate to live in a day and age where the media is so prevalent in our lives. We now access entire cast albums on streaming sites like SoundCloud or Spotify – and for very minimal cost to boot. YouTube has broken down the distance barriers around the theatre community. Whenever we want to hear upcoming musical theatre writers premiere their new work or check out the latest promotional clips of a new show, everyone has access to it if they have access to a computer. Even shows on Broadway are buying into the vlog craze by creating weekly video blogs with that revolve around the “behind the scenes” of that particular show. Not only is this a very useful marketing technique, but also it allows for theatre fans that are across the world to feel connected to shows and performers no matter where they live.

National tours were created for exactly the purpose of spreading new works of musical theatre across the country. Their sole purpose is to bring shows that were a hit in New York to those small suburban cities. Even if NYC isn’t within driving distance for you, a national tour might be. Collegiate and high school productions are also another great source of theatre. If you live anywhere near a college town, you have an opportunity to view up-and-coming theatre talent before they graduate. Not to mention, you would be helping to support theatre in our education systems.

Theatre doesn’t just happen in New York. It happens every single day in cities around the world. Some of the most meaningful and powerful works of theatre that I’ve experienced have come from the most unexpected of places. Don’t count out theatre performances just because they don’t take place in a state-of-the-art theatre building. Support resident and emerging artists by going to local theatre. New work only succeeds if it has support from avid theatre fans. Some of the big names in musical theatre wouldn’t have been recognized if people had not supported them at their show’s conception. Theatre happens all around us and where we live shouldn’t – and doesn’t – limit us to the number of quality productions that we are exposed to. 

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