Drawing on studies of fan participation, labour, and parasociality, this article explores the continuing diversification of musical theatre fandom via social media and the interactive ways in which productions harness fan engagement. The analysis focuses on Dear Evan Hansen (2016) as a musical that depicts emotionally vulnerable teenagers and exploitative online communication, notions that are also often reflected in how fans interact with the show. Fan-generated content is regularly recycled as marketing material, and even as merchandise, that is used to sell the production. Similarly, the musical’s producers and marketing team frequently invite interaction around the musical’s core mantra, ‘You Will Be Found’. These interactions can benefit fans by potentially eliciting feelings of social inclusion that may be experienced as empowering. However, this practice can also be interpreted as as ethically dubious as some of the musical’s narrative content, given that fans are ultimately providing free advertising for a commercial musical.
|Journal||Studies in Musical Theatre|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 1 Apr 2021|
- Dear Evan Hansen
- Social media
- Social inclusion