#LookBack: The Year in Broadway Social Media

Special Features   #LookBack: The Year in Broadway Social Media
 
The viral hashtags, history-making livestreams, and incredible announcements in theatre social media.
Broadway_Social_Media_2016_Graphic_HR

While many debate the merits of technology at our fingertips, social media was designed to connect people, expand the reach of causes, questions, conversations, and create borderless communities. Broadway took advantage of social media in a monumental way throughout 2016. As theatre continued to garner the national limelight, theatrical experiences and reactions to them on social media—from industry professionals and fans alike—followed suit. Here are five ways Broadway impacted the theatre-loving world via social media.

READ MORE: 17 BROADWAY SOCIAL INFLUENCERS TO FOLLOW IN 2017

1. LIGHTS, CAMERA, LIVE EVENTS!
From live television musical broadcasts to conventions and festivals, 2016 was the year that Broadway fans from all over the country were able to access their favorite stars and shows through technology. Live-tweeting these broadcasts united the online community of viewers in the moment, and livestreaming offered unprecented access to the hub of New York theatre.

BroadwayCon
The inaugural BroadwayCon saw over 4,000 Broadway fans arrive in New York City to celebrate all things theatre, even with a blizzard on the horizon. The excitement and enthusiasm spilled over the walls of the Hilton Hotel. With Facebook Live, Instagram, Periscope, and Twitter, Broadway fans all across the nation got a taste of the inaugural convention.


WATCH: ANTHONY RAPP, CHRISTINE PEDI, AND TYLER MOUNT TALK BROADWAYCON 2017 WITH HOST RUTHIE FIERBERG

Elsie Fest
The second annual Elsie Fest took place Labor Day weekend on Coney Island. Fans gathered together for a theatrical music festival. The day-long fest saw performances from Megan Hilty, Tituss Burgess, Pasek and Paul, and more shared across social media.


Grease: Live!

She Loves Me

#SNLinManuel

Hairspray Live!

Live-streaming was also used to bring fans inside the theatre and behind the scenes. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Periscope outing garnered over 1 million “hearts,” and the live-stream of Jennifer Simard’s Tony-nominated performance during Disaster’s! final show on Playbill’s Facebook led to Twitter personality, Annoying Actor Friend, campaigning for Simard to perform on the Tonys with the hashtag #PutSimardOn. Site-specific moments, like the final #Ham4Ham or Wicked’s Elphaba reunion, became accessible to fans across the country and the world.

Not to mention, Playbill began livestreaming from the red carpets of Broadway’s fall openings. Through Facebook Live, the viewers at home directly interacted with talent on screen, answering your questions in real time!

2. HAMILTON’S PASSIONATELY SMASHIN’ EVERY HASHTAG
It was truly the year of Hamilton, in every respect. Lin-Manuel Miranda reached 1 million followers on Twitter (and celebrated with a #1MillionGifs party), and the production spawned a handful of interactive hashtags inviting fans to share Hamilton-esque moments and reactions.

#Will4Ham


#Gram4Ham


#Hamilgrads


#HamofThrones


#SNLinManuel


#HamildocPBS


#EduHam


SHOP HAMILTON MERCHANDISE AT THE PLAYBILL STORE.

One hashtag did not celebrate the show, it called for a boycott. #BoycottHamilton began after Vice President-Elect Mike Pence attended the November 17 performance. At curtain call, cast member Brandon Victor Dixon delivered a statement from the company to Pence, which led to wide-spread debate. Some believed that it was inappropriate for Dixon to use such a platform to voice his opinion, and started #BoycottHamilton as a way to protest the show. However, Hamiltion actually set a record the week after the Pence visit, grossing over $3 million during an eight-performance week.

3. BROADWAY CAUSES
Members of the theatre community lit up the Twittersphere in support of various causes and movements.

#BroadwayforOrlando
At the 2016 Tony Awards, the Broadway community pinned silver ribbons—quickly designed by Tony-winning costume designer William Ivey Long—to their black tie attire in commemoriation of to the victims of the June 12 shooting in Orlando, FL. On June 15, over 60 Broadway artists gathered together as #BroadwayForOrlando to record “What the World Needs Now is Love.”

#Bway4BLM
The next month, after two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were shot by police, the Broadway community organized in support of Black Lives Matter, through #Bway4BLM. On August 1, Broadway for Black Lives Matter (now renamed the Broadway Advocacy Coalition to stand up for multiple causes) hosted a Black Lives Matter event to protest the wave of police brutality against black citizens. Broadway performers such as Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Joshua Henry, and more took part in the event through spoken word, song, and dance.



READ MORE: WHY BLACK LIVES MATTER, ESPECIALLY TO BROADWAY

Wells Fargo’s Ads
In September, the Broadway community rallied against Wells Fargo’s ad campaign, which implied careers in science were more valuable than those in the arts. A number of Broadway artists shared their disappointment on Twitter, including Andy Mientus, Cynthia Erivo, Robert Lopez, and Michael Cerveris.


READ MORE: THEATRE COMMUNITY RALLIES AGAINST WELLS FARGO ADVERTISEMENTS

4. DIVERSIFYING THE GREAT WHITE WAY
Diversity and inclusion remained important topics to the Broadway community. Through events like #Bway4BLM, the community was able to continue conversations about the state of diversity in the New York City theatre scene and beyond.

This year’s Tony Awards made history when four black actors won in all musical acting categories. Social media exploded with celebratory sentiments for Cynthia Erivo, Daveed Diggs, Leslie Odom Jr., and Renée Elise Goldsberry.




Many took to Twitter with questions about casting choices, from Porchlight’s production of In The Heights to Bay Street Theatre’s Prince of Egypt.





Still, many called the 2015-2016 Broadway season a banner year for diversity, and the community witnessed black actors command the concert stage with Jason Robert Brown and Subculture’s one-night-only benefit concert of The Last Five Years, starring Cynthia Erivo and Joshua Henry. It was the first time two black actors played these roles in such a prominent arena. Days before the concert, Henry told Playbill.com, “I hope that it just continues to give black actors and other actors of color opportunities in ways they haven’t had before.”



READ MORE: CYNTHIA ERIVO AND JOSHUA HENRY REVEAL THEIR THOUGHTS ON DOING THE LAST FIVE YEARS

5. FUN, LAUGHS, GOOD TIMES
Even though social media served as a space for serious discussion and debate, Broadway also shared moments of fun and joy with the community.

Broadway Babies
Three major Broadway baby announcements came via social media this year. With parents like these, can you imagine what kind of lullabies these kids will hear?!

Leslie Odom Jr. and Nicolette Robinson


Megan Hilty and Brian Gallagher

#pregnancyannouncement

A photo posted by meganhilty (@meganhilty) on


Laura Benanti and Patrick Brown

Patrick and I doing some light summer reading. Coming this winter...#BabyGirlBrown!!! ��

A photo posted by Laura Benanti (@laurabenanti) on


Mannequin Challenge
One of the most recent trends to hit the internet, the Mannequin Challenge, consisted of a group of people quite literally standing still like mannequins. Several productions within the Broadway community got in on the action—or, well, inaction.

READ MORE: BROADWAY SHOWS NAIL THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE

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