“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” This is just one of many lines in “Dirty Dancing” that made generations of Americans drool over the late, great Patrick Swayze. Having seen the film many times on television, I was excited to hear the national tour of the movie’s stage adaptation was making a stop in Cleveland at Playhouse Square.
Being the curious (and abundantly nerdy) public relations major I am, I asked myself, “What part do the actors play in the promotion of this show?” After a bit of research and interaction with members of the cast, it seems they have their hands in several different aspects, believe it or not.
After the show on March 5 (the U.S. tour’s 200th performance!), I met Emily Rice – the actress who plays the eccentric Lisa Houseman – and she shared her experience promoting the show as a cast member.
“We have two marketing people, Andrew and Melissa, and they do the stuff on Instagram and everything for us,” Rice said about the show’s social media efforts. “They tell us what hashtags to use and encourage us to use them.”
Andrew Cole and Melissa Cohen are practitioners from Type A Marketing, an agency solely dedicated to promoting Broadway and national tour productions. The duo created a Dirty Dancing Marketing Guidebook, a 38-page instruction manual that takes readers through everything from branding to social media to publicity specifications for the tour.
While specific hashtags are not mentioned in the guidebook, the cast of the U.S. national tour has been using #dirtydancingontour to connect with fans. In fact, after posting a picture of the program on my Instagram account, ensemble cast member Rashaan James II responded, adding the hashtag to my image while thanking me for coming to see the show.
Outside social media, actors are also essential in media relations efforts. Not only do photos of their performances make appearances in print and online features, the actors also dance their way onto the small screen by visiting local broadcasters. For example, “Dirty Dancing” leads Josh Drake (Johnny) and Gillian Abbott (Baby) stopped by Cleveland’s Fox 8 March 5 to teach “New Day Cleveland” co-host Natalie Herbick some moves from the show. If that doesn’t warm your heart and make you want to see “Dirty Dancing,” I don’t know what will.
If I learned anything from my experience delving into the world of “Dirty Dancing,” it’s that actors aren’t merely stepping into the spotlight on stage; they are performing marketing tasks on a daily basis and are an integral part of the success of the show’s promotion efforts.