Presidential Seal of Approval
Celebrities are great promotional tools when it comes to casting and they are just as effective in the audience. But there are different levels of celebrities and there is one certain level that every show wants . . . the Presidential level.
Hamilton has already received a huge amount of press. A new show based around the story of one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, this musical has received unprecedented levels of hype. It has a star writer in Lin-Manuel Miranda who is following up his last great success with In The Heights. It has a starry cast featuring Lin-Manuel and Glee’s Jonathan Groff. And it has been buzzing from word-of-mouth since its off-Broadway opening.
But that isn’t enough for any show – especially not this one where tickets are even more in demand than The Book of Mormon.
The role of any entertainment publicist is to get their show in the headlines enough that the average person sees it enough and realises that they need to see it. And what better way to get the show back in the headlines alongside a story which resonates with a huge number of people than getting the President and his family in the audience?
The First Family are big supporters of Broadway and their attendance always pushes its popularity to the front page of news sites bringing a whole swathe of new audience members. During the Obama presidency, Michelle Obama and her daughters have seen Memphis, Spider Man, Sister Act, The Trip to Bountiful, Motown the Musical, The Addams Family and Kinky Boots. And the first couple have seen their fair share including Denzel Washington’s A Raisin in the Sun.
Each time they rock up at the theatre, whatever show they are seeing becomes a leading news story because (by proxy) it has a presidential tick of approval.
The same thing happens with celebrity guests, but often these don’t get the same amount of publicity outside the theatre world and they often don’t have the same pull over their supporters as someone of a presidential stature. (Or it could always alienate the fans of a big star such as when Madonna was called out for texting during a performance of Hamilton off-Broadway).
Next time the average tourist audience member from middle-America visits New York and decides they must do the touristy thing and see a Broadway show, Hamilton has a much better chance of topping the list. Why? They will have heard about it more due to the Presidential news coverage and it is easy to justify their choice because if it was good enough for the President of the United States, then it is probably good enough for the average ticket buyer!
That is until the First Family decides which show to see next . . .