If you happen to use TikTok, you’ve virtually definitely observed that Broadway dancers are having an enormous second on the app. Sharing behind-the-scenes tidbits, demystifying #tourlife, orchestrating backstage hijinks, nerding out over favourite reveals: Musical theater performers are creating content material that makes full use of their distinctive skills—and incomes huge followings within the course of. And plenty of of those social media stars are ensemble members, swings, and understudies, whose roles are very important to the success of any present, however who don’t sometimes get a lot time within the highlight.
What code have these dancers cracked to realize viral fame? Is it true that being huge on TikTok is the important thing to getting solid in a sought-after present nowadays? And are there any downsides to having a whole bunch of 1000’s—possibly even hundreds of thousands—of individuals watch your movies? 5 #BroadwayTok stars break it down.
Large Theater Vitality
Each dancer has heard some model of the identical recommendation: Carry out for the particular person sitting within the final row, all the best way up within the balcony. Paula Leggett Chase, who goes by @antiqueshowgirl, thinks that charisma and enthusiasm are what’s drawing folks to Broadway performers within the very totally different surroundings of TikTok. “You see the power popping out of their pores,” she says. “They’re storytellers, and I believe that speaks to folks.” JJ Niemann, who together with his a million followers is certainly one of #BroadwayTok’s greatest stars, agrees: “We all know tips on how to promote it to an viewers,” he says.
In 2023, Niemann occurred to develop into a member of the unique Broadway solid of Again to the Future alongside one other TikTok phenom, Amber Ardolino. Like a whole lot of different Broadway performers, Niemann and Ardolino share humorous glimpses behind the scenes of their present, like backstage shenanigans and jokes concerning the grueling actuality of an eight-show-per-week way of life. “I usually get feedback like, ‘Oh, so being on Broadway is rather like grownup theater camp?’ ” says Ardolino. “For me to point out people who stay theater is chaotic and enjoyable and a large number—I really like that individuals are attending to see that.”
Musical theater performers have additionally created their very own TikTok-specific tendencies to attraction to a distinct segment however enthusiastic viewers of present and aspiring performers. Sequence like “roles I auditioned for versus roles I acquired,” or “soprano line versus alto line” have helped make TikTok a theater nerd’s paradise.
And #BroadwayTok performers give their audiences an opportunity to see components of the enterprise they don’t sometimes know as a lot about. Take Gerianne Pérez, who’s at present starring as Catherine of Aragon within the nationwide tour of SIX. She peppers in tour-specific content material for her followers, like mini-vlogs about journey days and recaps of the tour’s stops in numerous cities. Niemann, who’s a member of the ensemble in Again to the Future in addition to a canopy for 2 lead roles, provides his followers a have a look at what it’s prefer to play that form of pivotal however under-recognized position in a present.
Enjoyable or Profession?
So is TikTok a profession stepping-stone or simply for enjoyable? That relies upon. Niemann says he and Ardolino generally get extra consideration on the stage door than the present’s leads, and Ardolino notes that TikTok has given her the chance to satisfy different artists she admires and collaborate with them. “However I nonetheless should go in for a similar auditions as everybody else,” she says with fun. “Broadway is difficult sufficient. If I didn’t love doing this, I wouldn’t add it to my plate.”
For veteran dancer Brian Ust, often known as @theatredancebrian, TikTok did convey at the least one sudden alternative to audition for a preferred TV collection. “TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube have develop into my stage,” he says. Chase, a Broadway veteran whose credit embody A Refrain Line, Bye Bye Birdie, and Tootsie, says that her TikTok presence hasn’t earned her alternatives, nevertheless it has made youthful performers “extra open” to her. At 62, “my age group is a little bit invisible,” she says. “However now once I stroll into one thing with a younger solid, they know me.”
Although Niemann agrees that TikTok hasn’t actually modified his stage profession, it has develop into a enterprise for him. And within the feast-or-famine lifetime of a performer, that’s a present. “TikTok genuinely is simply as fruitful for me financially as my appearing profession and Broadway profession,” he says. “And it’s very nice to have one other inventive outlet and fervour.”
TikTok does have a darkish facet: nasty feedback, which aren’t distinctive to TikTok however which Gerianne Pérez, of SIX, says could be “outlandishly imply.” Dancer Brian Ust, for instance, skilled a barrage of unfavourable feedback after a star reposted certainly one of his movies. “That was one of many worst experiences I’ve had,” he says.
Pérez likes to keep in mind that trolls are sometimes reacting to theater performers’ quirkiness—which can also be what makes them good at what they do. “Now we have at all times been a little bit unusual. It’s as a result of we’re one thing particular,” she says. And regardless of Ust’s unfavourable experiences, he nonetheless refers to his followers as a “household.” His good experiences on the platform outweigh the dangerous, he says.
Different #BroadwayTok performers echo that sentiment. A few of performer Paula Leggett Chase’s followers have instructed her that her movies impressed them to return to bounce class—or to strive dancing for the primary time. Amber Ardolino, of Again to the Future, provides that she meets folks on the stage door who say they got here to the present as a result of they realized about it from her TikTok.
“They really feel like they know us, like they’re watching a good friend onstage,” she says. “It’s such a powerful and particular connection.”