Video is the perfect tool for theater marketing — it creates an instant personal connection with your cast and crew. This is huge, especially in community and regional theater; after all, familiar faces are the easiest way to boost ticket sales. Promo videos are also a great way to maximize your budget by encouraging viral marketing — you can bet that families and friends will share a video like crazy if their loved one makes an appearance.
We hate to be cynical, but theater isn’t cheap, and audiences want to make sure that they’re in for a good show. Marketing videos are the fastest way to prove that your play or musical is worth the ticket price. Showing the caliber of your performers brings in audiences. Plus, it convinces other talented performers to come out for your next audition!
Note: Theater licensing agreements have strict rules about video of performances. Before you post anything with music or lines from the show, ask the licensing company for clarity on what’s allowed and what’s not.
These are our favorite ways to use video for theater marketing. Most of them are also pretty easy to use for other types of performing arts marketing, too. Need more ideas for publicity for your theater? Check out our 29 Community Theater Marketing Ideas.
Where to Use Theater Marketing Videos
Video marketing takes a lot of effort, so it’s important to get the most mileage from every video you shoot. Don’t just upload a theater promo video to YouTube and hope for the best — share that bad boy everywhere you can, and encourage your cast and crew to do the same!
Also: don’t worry about buying a fancy camera and editing software if you don’t have the budget. Most smartphones take excellent video, and you can make basic cuts right from your phone.
Here are the best places to use your theater marketing videos:
- Instagram stories and posts
- Facebook posts
- Your theater’s YouTube channel
- Commercials for your play or musical
- Embedded on your website
- In your theater’s email newsletters
- Cast emails to family and friends
1. Go Backstage During a Performance
There’s something thrilling about getting to see a theatrical performance from the wings of a theater. During the run of your show, take video of actors making their entrances, running offstage for a quick change, or walking out to thunderous applause during a curtain call.
2. Create a Theater Promo Video for a Play or Musical
Are you ready for a challenge? Most of our tips for using video to market theater require little to no editing. If you have an editing program (something like Adobe Premiere Pro for a computer or LumaFusion for iPad editing), you can make a commercial for your theater. Talk to the director and production team in advance to find out what your licensing agreement allows — then, record footage over a period of time and put it together into a promotional video. Upload it to YouTube and social media, embed it on your website, and encourage your cast to share it.
You can also do an easy, cheap season promo video like this one.
3. Show Your Singers’ Warmups
Musical theater licenses often prevent you from using footage of the show itself — but there are other ways to show off your singers’ voices. Why not take video of your best performers while they’re getting ready for rehearsal? If you’ve ever been in the room during a powerful singer’s warmup, you know that it can be pretty darn impressive. Wait until they’re warm, and then ask them to let it rip! It makes a fun behind-the-scenes peek for a longer promo video, but you can also share it as a standalone clip on Instagram stories or a Facebook post.
4. Bring Audiences into the Rehearsal Room
Many theatergoers have no idea what goes into a play or a musical. When you’re in rehearsal, take some clips of your actors doing their thing. (Just make sure to get their permission before posting, and make sure you’re not violating copyright!) There’s no need to record every single practice — instead, go for the ones that will be most interesting on video:
- Dance rehearsal
- Dramatic acting scenes
- Scenes with physical stunts/comedy
- Sitzprobe (for musicals)
- First rehearsal on stage
- Dress rehearsal
5. Chat with the Director
Theater directors are fascinating people — they’re the ones who set the vision for the entire show. If your director is willing, set up a video interview so they can discuss the play or musical, talk about their unique goals, and chat about anything unusual they’re doing. We guarantee that they’ve thought through every single detail of the show, so they’ll have a lot to say!
6. Take Viewers on a Backstage Tour of the Theater
When you’re doing something in the theater, take your viewers along for the ride. Think: loading in the show, flying the backdrops, rehearsing on stage, hanging lights, and spiking the stage. Show backstage crew members at work, or record quick interviews about their individual responsibilities.
7. Record Video from the Fly Loft or Catwalk
If you’re lucky enough to have a theater with a fly loft or catwalk, climb up and show the view of the stage from high above. Make sure you ask the technical director for permission — if they’re concerned about safety, ask them to record video for you.
8. Actor Instagram Takeovers
Don’t have anyone to record video? Get your actors involved! Ask them to do an Instagram takeover for the day/week. This is a fun way to give a new perspective on theater, showing rehearsals, warmups, memorization, etc. from an insider’s point of view. You might also ask the actor to do a “day in the life” to show how they balance work, family, personal obligations, and theater. When the actor is onstage, encourage them to hand off the phone to another person so they can record them in the scene. Don’t stop there — do the same thing with your director, production team, orchestra members, and backstage crew.
9. Cast and Production Team Intro Videos
Have you ever gone to the theater to see one performer that you love? Capitalize on your cast members’ personalities by filming short intro videos. Use a set of standard questions or ask them to come up with their own introductions. You can do the same with the director, orchestra members, production staff, and crew. (If they’re willing.)
10. Drop in on the Costume Shop
Costumes are one of the most delightful parts of coming to the theater. If you’re promoting a musical or play with gorgeous costumes, drop in to take a video of your costume team at work. Show them sewing clothing, making accessories, or conducting a fitting. You might also ask an actor to come along to show off their favorite costumes. (Don’t show off everything; leave plenty to the imagination so audiences have something to look forward to on opening night!) Period shows — think musicals like My Fair Lady and anything Shakespeare — work well for this type of video.
11. Do a Performer POV Video
Do you have a GoPro at your disposal? Rig up a strap and use it to capture video from the point of view of a performer. You might not be able to record audio (check your license), but it’s a fun way to switch things up. This is particularly exciting during dances, fights, and audience-facing scenes. (Even if there’s no audience, it’s fun to see the theater from an actor’s POV,)
12. Tour the Orchestra Pit
The orchestra is a huge part of musical theater, but they’re not often featured in marketing videos. Give your amazing musicians the credit they’re due by including them in your videos. Tour the orchestra pit and show how it works, record a bit of rehearsal, and interview individual orchestra members. If possible, sit in on a rehearsal and take a quick clip facing the conductor. Community theaters, in particular, benefit from showing musicians — it’s a wonderful way to attract attention with familiar faces and exceptional talent.
13. Live from Opening Night
Most video platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, have a live video feature. Capture the energy and excitement of opening night by hosting a live video. Assign someone to visit the actors in hair and makeup, stop in at sound check, watch dancers warming up, pop backstage, say hi to the orchestra, talk to the director, and chat with the ushers. Just be careful to knock before you walk into a dressing room!
14. Film Audience Reactions
Have you ever left the theater on cloud nine? Video is a great way to bottle up that wonderful, happy energy. As audience members are leaving, ask them if you can record a quick clip with their impressions of the show. Pull them off to the side, ask a quick question, and thank them profusely. If they’re nervous, reassure them that they can have final approval over the video.
Video takes time, but it’s one of the best ways to publicize your theater productions. Have you come up with any creative ways to use video for theater marketing? Let us know, and we’ll add them to the list!