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Summertime...Took a little vacation! Three reviews coming soon! Amazing Grace, Hand to God and Mamma Mia!

I hope you'll come back for frequent visits, to see new reviews, to share opinions, to take a survey (or two), and to celebrate the shows and show people that have made the TheatreScene!

Jeff

Saturday, July 14, 2012

WEBSITE REVIEW: Bring It On: The Musical

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Today's blog begins a series of reviews of the websites of the Broadway shows of the 2012 - 2013 season.  Generally, I will try to review the website once the show starts previews, with a briefer look at it after the show opens.  I probably won't look at websites for shows at the Roundabout or Lincoln Center, as they tend to cover a range of shows and programs beyond the scope of one show.  Of course, if, say, Harvey were to branch off and get its own site, then, of course, I'll share my thoughts on it.

I thought I'd evaluate each site based on the following: ease of navigation, variety of material, quality of material, and the presentation and overall impression it gives about the show - does it add to my interest in seeing the show?  Finally, any show that creates a unique online experience and/or makes me want to return to the site regularly gets bonus points from me.  (I don't know a ton about what goes into maintaining this kind of site, so if there is an element of a website you think I should include in my write-up, please contact me with your thoughts!)

First up: the first new musical of the season!


BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL

The Home Page Set Up: A
You know what they say about first impressions, and this site starts off making a good one.  You know immediately where you are with the giant logo to your left.  The logo, a silhouette of a cheerleader in a joyous leap is eye-catching and exciting.  The vivid colors of the main links on the page catch your attention without creating a messy screen.  And the dominating feature, a video link frozen with a New York Times quote about "human fireworks" is a savvy move.

Links to the basic information: tickets, about (the show), company and press, are tabs at the top and are easy to use.  The "moneymakers" are at the bottom and are more prominent, with bigger boxes and show photos to draw your eye downward. A more urgent message about buying tickets is first (smart), followed by an urgent call to continue to follow the show through social media (smart again - the target audience, probably teen girls, loves something to "like," "follow," and feel a part of), and lastly the all important shopping button.

Finally, and all show sites seem to do it, the bottom, the very bottom, almost as an after thought, is the theatre information.  Down by the legalize... I've never understood that.

Navigation: A-
All of the buttons on the home page work and send you directly to where you want to go.  You'd think that would be a given, but I'm sure you, like me, have been to more than one show site where that wasn't the case.

My one qualm about the navigation around the site is that when you click "Watch More Videos" or "About" - both are the same location - you have to click within the YouTube screenshot to get the "playlist" and I had some trouble getting the other videos to come up, mainly because hovering more than 2 seconds over the tiny pictures that come up moves you to that video, whether you want to go there or not.  Instead of a playlist, I think it would be easier (and look like there is more content) of there were screenshot links for each separate video.

Presentation of the Pages: B+
Each page, as I said is easy to get to, and each looks very slick and exciting like the homepage.  I especially like the fact that there are a TON of production shots and pictures from the tour and various cast events on the link to pictures through Facebook.  And I appreciate the fact that you can look at them without having to have a Facebook account. (Bonus points!)  It feels exclusive while still being inclusive.  I also love the decent size head shots of the 36 (!) cast members, and that when you click on them, a pop up of their bio comes on screen.  Bonus points, too,  for the fact that every cast member ends their bio with their Twitter name!  These (GOD ARE THEY YOUNG) kids want you kids to Tweet with them.  How with it! (Note that was a sincere comment, not a bitchy barb!)

Director Andy Blankenbuehler

My qualms with this aspect of the site are these.  One, there are no pictures of the creative staff as there are for the cast.  You click on their names and a bio comes up, but I'd like to see who I am reading about.  Aren't they as important than the people IN the show?  Two, when you are in the "Press" section, the list of relevant articles makes no differentiation between the Broadway engagement and the touring show.  I realize that this is the tour coming to Broadway, but aren't they hyping the fact that the creatives are working on it still and the show on the road isn't exactly the show on Broadway.  That the Broadway version is to be treated like any other new show coming to Broadway, etc.?  And the same goes for all the press quotes that are all over the site - the unknowing might think the show has opened and Ben Brantley loved it or even reviewed it for that matter.  It would seem to me that a disclaimer about the quotes being about the tour should be some place... And, yes, I know it is common practice.  That does not make it right.

Specific Content: B
Videos: The commercial is slick and exciting.  Just watching the stunts makes me excited (and a little queasy)!  The montage of scenes is pretty much what you'd expect, with great video cross-cutting.  But in isolation, the songs sound surprisingly generic and boring, especially considering who wrote them.  I'm willing to wait and see how they play out as whole songs and in context, but by itself the video leaves my wanting.  Finally, the video with the creative team is also what you'd expect: "why I am doing this, my connection to the others, what I hope audiences come away with, and why I'm so excited to be a part of it."  The difference here is that these are some heavy-hitters talking, and guess what?  They sound sincere to top it all off!
Pictures: Even though you are navigated away from the site to see them, it is one step away and simple to get back to.  And it is worth it.  The pictures by Paul Aresu, Joan Marcus and Craig Schwartz are amazing!  Think Broadway meets Sports Illustrated.  The pictures alone make me want to see the show.

The Original Broadway Cast of Bring It On: The Musical
Photo by Joan Marcus



Shopping: Exactly what you'd expect and nothing more - t-shirts, ladies fitted tees, a hoodie, and, naturally, a pom pom and skimpy cheer shorts!  I assume there will be more at the show and when it gets going - a poster?  a magnet? a sports water bottle?
Tickets: Slick and colorful, with easy links to Telecharge and premium seating.  There is a little more about the theatre - very little - the address and Google maps link.  No pictures of that?  Geez, even the flop shows had pics of the load in and marquee going up...  There is also an FAQ link that brings up a pop-up of, you guessed it, FAQ's!  It kicks off with the question everyone asks - how is the show related to the film?  The down side is that the link looks like an after thought.  IT isn't even highlighted in a box.  Blink and you missed it!  And maybe it should be somewhere on the site BEFORE the buy a ticket link?  An fairly informed consumer is less likely to bitch or Tweet about being misled if they aren't!

Bonus Points: +2 
Pictures on a Facebook page that everyone can look at and being able to Tweet each cast member is cool and hip and actually useful, too.
The Downside: - 2
Does the site break any new ground?  No.  Could it use an upgrade?  In a few places, yes.


Overall:  B+ 
Bring It On: The Musical needs to be hip and exciting from start to finish.  I hope the show is like that.  The website is almost there - a little more excitement, a little more hip.  But it gets the job done in the important ways.  I hope its ease of use and decent content can overcome its lack of uniqueness.  These days, online, you can't afford to be part of the blur.  You need to BRING IT ON.

Jeff
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@jkstheatrescene (Twitter); jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com (email), or Comment Below (Blogger)

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