How a country song reminded me to touch my audience.

First, yes, I’ll admit, the title of this blog sounds a little creepy.

But it’ll make sense.  I hope.

If you love Broadway show tunes, then I bet you have a soft spot in your heart for country music, even if you can’t admit it when you’re singing along at Musical Mondays at Splash.

Country crooners tell great little stories in three-and-a-half-minutes and three-and-a-half choruses.  And aren’t story songs what the best of musical theater writers do?  Someday soon, I do hope we’ll get that country musical that 60% of the population and I have been pinin’ for.

I was listening to a little country on my Sirius over the weekend when the new tune “Fly Over States” came on.  My cruisin’ partner practically jumped out of her seat when she heard Jason Aldean mention her home state of Indiana.  I could see the pride in her eyes and hear it in her “yee-haw!”  Aldean twanged on to mention Kansas, Oklahoma and a whole bunch of those Midwestern plain states that are often forgotten by East and West coasters.  And I’d bet you my Sirius subscription that with each state he mentioned, he sold more singles.

The writers of “Fly Over States” not only knew how to write a catchy tune and cool story about two guys on a flight from NY to LA, but they knew how to personalize it for their audience.  They knew how to create emotional “touch points” for their listeners.  (Starting to feel less creepy now?)

You’ve experienced this, haven’t you?  When a character in a movie is a fan of your favorite baseball team (or any team but the Yankees) . . . or when a politician eats at a restaurant that you’ve been to.  You can relate.  And you feel a sense of pride.

All of this is a great reminder to writers and producers out there that you must strive to create these emotional touch points for your audience throughout your show.

They can be as overt as a localized reference like we use when Altar Boyz or Miss Abigail is licensed around the country (one of Miss A’s biggest laughs in Tampa was when we referenced the local as-advertised-on-tvs-and-billboards law firm of Morgan and Morgan).  Or they can simply be characters that audiences can relate to . . . and that feel things that they might feel.

But as much as we go to the theater to be swept away from our everyday lives, it’s the elements of our everyday lives that can get us more swept up in what’s happening on that stage.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.