Earlier this week the LA Times had a rather lengthy piece on the closing number of the musical Six, a show about the six wives of Henry VIII. In the final number which has come to be known as the “Megasix”
Audiences film while dancing by their seats, singing along and cheering with excitement. Spotlights swoop from side to side. Confetti falls from above. And each of the six actors — dressed in jewel-toned Tudor fits, fishnet stockings and bedazzled boots — reprise the catchiest sections of their characters’ signature songs for the crowd and their phones.
Each subsequent staging yielded more Megasix uploads — except in the United States, where filming the performance is against union rules. Moss and Marlow could easily have considered its burgeoning social media popularity a risk: “Most of the time, creators are a little bit hesitant getting that [intellectual property] out there without the greater context of the show,” said Jonathan Breitbart, a 20-year-old Colorado theatergoer…
Recording and sharing video of that part of the show has become something of a mini-industry. One fan reported that she watches for casting changes and buys last minute tickets so she can catch how the understudy or new performer puts their spin on the character. Another has seen the show 97 times ” in the name of “swingo,” or seeing an alternate play every queen.”
Just as the production of Hamilton hit on the practice of Ham4Ham to entertain people waiting on line for the lottery tickets to the heavily in demand show, this is another example of a production finding an element of their show that they can leverage into something of a grassroots marketing effort.
Though it should be noted, the effort hasn’t entirely had constructive results. Some of the actors reported feeling increased pressure to go to 150% to look great for social media. A lot of nasty comments are made on social media about performances audiences have judged to not be up to standard or compare unfavorably to another performer’s interpretation.
The underlying tone of the article seems to point to a likely trend of Broadway/West End shows designing themselves to be “camera ready” as it were for similar grassroots efforts. Though this brings to mind the semi-joke about bosses telling their marketing departments to create a viral ad. Not everyone who tries to create an experience that fans take ownership of is likely to succeed.