Do you save all of your Playbills and dream of the day you’ll see your headshot in one? Perhaps you’re having a Broadway-themed party and want something that’ll give you the extra bit of theatre magic you’ve been looking for. Thanks to PLAYBILLder, your dreams can become a reality.
PLAYBILLder officially launched in 2013 as a service that helps people build and print professional-quality Playbills for their productions and events. In the three years it has been active, PLAYBILLder has grown exponentially and is now represented in all 50 states, as well as internationally. The service boasts over 37,000 unique users with over one million PLAYBILLders being produced every year.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to have Playbill represented in [their communities],” says Sarah Jane Arnegger, business manager of educational programs at Playbill. “[Especially when] kids get to interact with our brand, maybe for the first time, and they get to see their headshots and bios in programs. It’s very exciting.”
The PLAYBILLder experience starts with a save-the-date invitation that can be sent to friends, family, and community members directly through the website. It then takes its users through a step-by-step process in creating a program right down to deciding whether to print locally or have fully printed-and-bound copies sent directly to them from Playbill’s professional print services. There’s even a virtual Playbill that can be shared on all forms of social media.
The process isn’t complicated, as users will never have to face a blank page. “We know how stressful it is to put a program together, [so we aim to] do anything that we can to help ease [directors’] stress and let them concentrate on their students and putting together the actual show,” Arnegger explains. “If you can upload a photo to Facebook, you can create a PLAYBILLder. Ninety percent of the pages that you’re going to work with are what we call ‘photo manager pages.’ You can upload files and photos from your computer and even crop them within the system. It’s that simple.”
PLAYBILLder works with licensing companies such as Music Theatre International, Tams-Witmark, Theatrical Rights Worldwide, and many others in order to ensure that its users will always have correct billing pages, character and song lists, and program art (should they choose to buy into a graphics package when licensing their productions). “We want to make sure that the licensing companies are happy with the products as well,” Arnegger says.
Kendra Lee, a marketing assistant at A Class Act NY—an acting studio for children and teenagers in the city—has been using PLAYBILLder for two weeks and is impressed with the results. “[Because the pages auto-populate with information] I’m really confident that we’re getting the billing page exactly right based on our licensing contract,” she says. “That saves me a lot of time and worry.” Lee stresses that A Class Act NY goes the extra mile for their students and parents, and that using PLAYBILLder enhances the professional-level experience their performers and audience members are receiving.
When PLAYBILLder is being used by schools, Arnegger likes to stress its fundraising aspect to teachers and directors. “One of the most important things about PLAYBILLder is that it helps schools fundraise for their programs,” she says. “We have schools that sell ads, so we have a full ad section where you can come up with your own revenue stream or source. PLAYBILLder does everything from business-card size to full-page ad buys. You can have a community organization underwrite your Playbills [in exchange for prime ad space]. It’s getting their name out there, and it’s also getting the students out into the community to sell ads. It’s a really great chance for schools to fundraise for their arts education programs.”
Arnegger also says that using PLAYBILLder is a great way to involve students who may not have been cast in productions by creating a marketing team. “Your students can put it together; they know technology better than most adults,” she adds.
Aside from being used for schools and extracurricular programs, PLAYBILLder can also be used to add some Broadway magic to weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, birthday parties, and other special events. A couple at last year’s BroadwayCon shared that they used PLAYBILLder to make programs for their wedding. “They came up to our booth in matching Playbill pajama tops and asked if they could speak to someone about Playbill,” she says. “And when I told them I was [who they were looking for] they said, ‘We’re using your PLAYBILLder for our wedding program!’ They were so excited about it, and they actually produced the most adorable wedding Playbill. It was great.”
For more information about PLAYBILLder, visit PLAYBILLder.com.
Joe Gambino is a writer, designer, performer, and Hamilton lottery loser who lives in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_joegambino_.