Getting Audiences Back to Oz: Part 1

It was announced a couple of months ago that Wicked was returning for a 10th tour of New Zealand and Australia. And I wrote an article discussing the issue of getting audiences back to see it again after the show only finished a couple of years ago. Let’s check in and see how they are going . . .

Elphaba (Jemma Rix). Photo Credit: Jeff Busby

Elphaba (Jemma Rix). Photo Credit: Jeff Busby

The campaign hasn’t hit Australia yet, but with the Auckland production starting previews in three days there is plenty of marketing happening. And for today’s article I want to look at YouTube.

Possibly the single best and worst thing for the theatre industry, every show has a YouTube account and Australia’s Wicked is no exception. But there is a marked change in the way Wicked is using their YouTube account for the new tour.

Currently featuring 11 videos, only 3 were uploaded during their original Australian tour. But since the return tour was announced four months ago there have been eight new videos added. Ok, these aren’t huge numbers, but comparatively that is an increase of 266.67% in a four months compared to three videos over a several year run – and that is pretty big!

There has also been a dramatic change in the style of videos.

The three videos from the original tour consisted of a summary from the Channel 7 Behind-the-scenes documentary, a great-concept-but-cheap-camera rehearsal video and a promotional video launching the tour that started in Brisbane. They can get away with the first two (although the second one would have been better with an expensive camera – but then it was 2009!) but the third video, which was released after the extended Melbourne and Sydney seasons, is ripped straight off an American Wicked site and features very little of relevance to Australian audiences with American cast interviews.

But the returning tour of Wicked is right on the money with their new videos!

A large mixture of interviews with the principle cast, chatting with the understudies, a video (from the original Broadway catalogue) about the construction of the dragon clock and the odd promotional tour video. Yes, the promotional video uses the same first national tour footage, but it is preceded by a beautiful minute flying over Auckland as the Wicked Witch of the West which makes up for the lack of Australian footage.

These videos also herald a change of direction into building a relationship with the audience members. By making them fall in love with the new actors, they are slowly chipping away those reasons not to go and emphasising the fact that if they do return to Wicked they get to see some new people play out the two famous roles.

The only kind of video I am waiting for is a bit of a behind-the-scenes in the rehearsal or during a show because that is the stuff that theatre tragics, like myself, go nuts over. And gives us a reason to justify buying that one extra ticket to see it one more time!

So go and check out the Wicked Australia YouTube page and catch up on the new cast. And keep your eye out for one of those behind-the-scenes videos. I have my fingers crossed that they bring one out soon.