You don’t need e-Harmony to make this meaningful connection!

My name is Matt Bell, and I’m an audience interaction-a-holic.

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But I’m not alone. There are plenty of audience members who like to be involved in the show they are seeing – even if it is completely embarrassing like when Geoffrey Rush humped a woman in the front row of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. And there’s a good reason why all shows should include this!

Including audience interaction in a show does one important thing. It creates a personal connection between audience members and performers. A connection that will be bragged about later to their networks as they explain how they were involved in the show. And that’s some pretty powerful personal promotion – as we all know that a personal recommendation speaks volumes compared to a mass-market advertisement.

There are, of course, some people out there who shrink away whenever a performer or comedian comes near them in a theatre. But, believe it or not, this works for them as well (as long as they aren’t chosen). It provides a talking point, something which you inherently mention when a friend asks you whether the show was enjoyable. And if it was really funny or involving, it could be something that you actively bring up in conversation even when the topic has nothing to do with theatre.

And that’s why I love what Once does on Broadway.

To kick off each performance, the talented actors of Once take to the stage with some folk tunes and have a jam session with members of the audience as they crowd around on stage. It is pretty cool and also provides a unique experience for each audience members as they get the opportunity to head to the stage and become immersed in the show – before it even starts!

On top of this, rather than ordering your interval drinks at the counter in the foyer, as the show is set in a bar you are welcome to walk right up on stage and order them at that bar.

Some very clever ideas, not just because they encourage this idea of audience interaction, but because they open the possibility of interacting with the performers and the show up to every member in the audience rather than the selected few.

So rather than just creating one or two people who walked out of the theatre spreading the word about their experience, you have every single person who walked out those doors actively promoting. And it is working as the show is still immensely popular and selling out!

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