The First Broadway Musical Performance Via Twitter

New Musical, Next To Normal, Gets An Unusual Premier      17/08/09

The First Broadway Musical Performance Via Twitter

Buying Choices

Next To Normal, a new Broadway musical, recently got an unusual premier.

The musical, which tells the story of "a family trying to take care of themselves and each other," was adapted for short messaging social network Twitter, a first for a musical and a move that got the new show a surprising amount of attention.

Adapting a musical for a medium based on text messages of a maximum of 140 characters poses obvious challenges - starting with how to present the music.

Brian Yorkey, who wrote the book and lyrics for Next To Normal, took an oblique approach, translating the story to Twitter as if the characters were "tweeting" during moments when they have no lines in the play. Songs were tweeted as links to audio files.

The decision to put some extra thought into how the musical interacted with the microblogging social network paid off. The musical's Twitter account, N2NBroadway, now has over 563,000 followers, making it more popular than Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, John Cleese, CNN and even the BBC.

Some comments from N2NBroadway's followers on Twitter:

  • "The twitter performance made me want to see the show more. It gave more of a story that wasn't in the music."
  • "The twitter performance made me feel closer to the characters, so the enjoyment is focused on a much more personal level."
  • "Having seen it already it added a whole new dimension to the characters which prompted me to see it again."

According to a New York Times article on the musical:

The show, which sold $226,000 in tickets and filled 72 percent of its seats in the week before the Twitter production began, made $363,000 and reached 99 percent of capacity the week it ended.

The success of the musical's Twitter experiment has the show's creative team looking for ways to capitalize on the show's Twitter presence. "Collaborate with Tony winners Tom Kitt (composer) & Brian Yorkey (lyricist) for Twitter songwriting sessions to create an original song," they wrote in a recent message.

For years, people have been focusing on the how the MP3s and the Internet are undermining the traditional music industry.

Next To Normal's Twitter experiments shows that the Internet is creating some amazing new opportunities, too.


James Lewin
Twitter @podcasting_news


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