Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Broadway Baby Gone Online


New York, October 5, 2011 – The vinyl records of Jesus Christ Superstar, Andrew Lloyd Webber's seminal early '70s rock musical and The Sound of Music, Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved late ‘50s Broadway classic, were my first exposures to the magical world of musical theater. Even though I grew up 8,509 miles away from New York City (I was originally from Manila, Philippines), I distinctly remember that I was subscribing to printed Playbill magazines delivered via snail mail for one year. That thirst for the latest news about shows that were premiering on Broadway during the ‘90s clearly became one of my teenage years to adulthood fixations. So, when the wired networks and the early stages of social media, in the guise of online forums and chat rooms, had started invading our household, I was one Broadway baby in seventh heaven! Hello, world and hello, talkinbroadway.com!

Talkinbroadway.com’s “All that Chat!," the web site’s popular message board application, had allowed me to converse with other theater enthusiasts from all corners of the earth; my chat handle was Renthead, which generally pertained to any devoted fan of the Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical Rent created by the late Jonathan Larson. Rent, which opened on Broadway in 1996, was like the “Jesus Christ Superstar” to Generation Xers. Many chat members discussed about Rent extensively from Larson’s unexpected demise, and his friendly liaison with Stephen Sondheim, a musical theater legend who wrote A Little Night Music and Sunday in the Park with George, among others to the show’s rising stars Adam Pascal, Idina Menzel, Anthony Rapp et. al. After 14 years, “All that Chat!” is still online; current chat members recently were discussing about episodes of Glee, a FOX TV hit musical series about a gang of misfit glee club members at William Mckinley High School, and the new, spanking Broadway Bound revival of (guess what?) Jesus Christ Superstar!

Sadly, the allure of handling corporate communication for a conglomerate after graduating from college was inevitable, and made my love affair with the theater fizzled out for around eight years. However, a complete turnaround happened when I decided to join Stages, one of the leading event management and theater companies in Manila, in 2002-2010. From writing annual reports and business media releases, I shifted to writing about my first love: the theater. I was back to seventh heaven; this time, I was handling traditional and online publicity for Broadway musicals that were opening in Manila from Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahren’s Once On this Island to Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s West Side Story to Disney’s High School Musical. I also started blogging about theater at www.oliverpublicist.blogspot.com, which has had nearly 300,000 page hits since its launch, and has been highly visible in Google searches.

Currently engaged in multitasking between projects for New York University, a private university in New York City where I attend Graduate School in public relations focusing on arts advocacy, and BroadwayWorld.com, a popular online source for theater news where I edit, write, and take photographs of Broadway theater-related events in Manila and New York City, I could say that my passion for the theater has been surging to endless possibilities. The convergence between my inclination toward the arts and the continuously evolving interactive digital media landscape certainly has a lot to do with it.

My theater fixation continues online and off.

Oliver Oliveros is regional site editor, author and photographer at BroadwayWorld.com — an online news portal covering theater, live entertainment, Broadway shows and Broadway tickets.