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VIP ACCESS: The Best of Broadway on Twitter

June 22nd, 2011

Every fourth Wednesday of the month, the “VIP Access” column will serve up advice on how to make your theater-going experiences cheaper, easier and more fulfilling with inside scoop from the experts. This month, we’re acting like the birdies on Jaybird Street…

Tom Cruise in "Rock of Ages". Image via @adammshankman.

Tweet. Tweet. Tweet. With its 140 character limit, rabid followers and echoing retweets, Twitter is either a revolutionary communication force or the end of civilized interaction as we know it. Or maybe it’s just a great way to feel like you’re chatting with the theater’s brightest stars. Given The Broadway Blog’s mission to welcome everyone into a theatrical cocktail conversation, I’ll vote C for now and let history be the judge.

As a newbie–@BroadwayBlogTom–I spent the last week diving in headfirst and trying to learn the rules of the road (and, clearly, mixing metaphors haphazardly). Other than the possibility of getting lost in a T-Hole for hours, Twitter turns out to be a pretty amazing way to learn about ticket deals, hang out with your theater idols and meet some new ones as well. Here are my top ten recommendations for twitter feeds to “follow”:

Neil Patrick Harris. Photo by Kevin Kane.

GOING HOLLYWOOD: It feels like a bit of a betrayal but two of the best twitterers are a theatrical expat and a stage dabbler; in this one case, Hollywood really does do it bigger and better. Director/choreographer Adam Shankman (@adammshankman) made news this week by posting the picture above of Tom Cruise in character from the set of his new film Rock of Ages and that’s just the beginning of the behind-the-scenes fun he’s got cooking. And if you thought Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH) was witty and personable hosting the Tonys, wait until you join in the conversation as it ranges from baby stories to theater recommendations, celebrity shout-outs to calls to political action. Don’t tell David Burtka, but NPH is now my boyfriend.

CAN I GET A DIVA: Actually, the amazing thing about twitter is that it makes some of the biggest music theater divas seem like your best gal pal. Four-time Tony winner Audra McDonald (@AudraEqualityMc) serves up a sweetheart of a stream, defending the rights of her gay fans (see her name), praising the performers she admires and, from what I hear, extolling the virtues of pancakes. Mmmm, pancakes. A Glee-full Kristin Chenoweth (@KChenoweth) may feature a few too many cross-promotional brand name links (Father’s Day was all about a charity supported by Wendy’s) but her fluttery, funny and responsive feed bubbles with energy and down-home inclusiveness. The biggest surprise for me was the hilariously wide-ranging, personal moment revealing, down-right chatty tweeting from the Broadway superstar Betty Buckley (@BettyBuckley). Plus, she describes herself in her profile as an “actress/singer/cowgirl/teacher”; she had me at “cowgirl”.

WHAT’S THE 411: There are far too many news feeds out there to even begin listing them here, but two particular non-personality-driven twitterers provide useful services amidst the clutter. I’ve talked about Student Rush (@StudentRushNYC) before as a great website for getting deals on cheap Broadway tickets, however, one of my problems with the site is the time-sensitive deals often are gone before I check my email and read about them. Their twitter feed solves that problem by giving you an up-to-the-second chance to get the down-low on what’s on sale. Sometimes, you don’t need information; you need wisdom. Sondheim Lyrics (@sondheimlyrics) sends out a single, haiku-like excerpt from a Sondheim song (actually, if it’s from Pacific Overtures, it might be a haiku). Once a day, it’s like a single drop of sanity in the crazy twitter pool.

Photo by Joan Marcus.

WHERE THE BOYS ARE: Buff dynamo Nick Adams (@TheNickAdams) has been making audiences swoon in Priscilla Queen of the Desert and he continues his sparkly, celebratory flirtation on twitter, thanking fans and giving tasty tidbits from backstage. You may not yet know Andrew Keenan-Bolger (@KeenanBlogger) but you soon will, especially after spending some quality twitter time with this geektasticly handsome actor/writer (Submissions Only). Opinionated and breezy, tech-savvy and photo-happy, Andrew’s tweets are the closest you can get to hanging out with a group of working actors without having to buy a dance belt and go on a bus and truck tour.

THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL: I’m not saying I’m the best twitterer but if I don’t love myself, how can I love someone else? Give me a try (@BroadwayBlogTom) and I promise not to inundate you with inanity; with just a few posts a day, I’ll let you know when articles are up on the blog, pass on a breaking news story and toss out a few personal thoughts that don’t fit into a more formal entry here. And, if the god’s of IHOP should bless me, I might just talk about pancakes, too. A boy can dream.

Two notes: One can never be entirely certain that people are who they say there are on twitter; hopefully “@BettyBuckley” isn’t a reclusive Dallas showtune queen with a five o’clock shadow and delusions of grandeur. And, since I’m new to this, if you have suggestions for other great feeds to follow, bring ’em on in the comments!

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