Look, it’s a Playbill on your phone!

When I started attending Broadway shows in my mid-teens, I purposefully got to the theater early so I could devour the Playbill.  I read every word of every bio, read every name on the staff page, and tried to figure out what the people did to get listed in the Special Thanks (a little secret – on all of my shows, I list my parents in the special thanks).

And when I finished reading each one, I always wished there were more.

Now, thanks to the brand new Playbill app announced on Monday, there will be.

And this ain’t no ordinary app.

Get this . . . thanks to a partnership with digital development company Broadway Voice (founded by Broadway Producer Ken Mahoney), the app will know what theater you’re in, and when you’re in it, so it’ll push relevant content to you about your experience (and most certainly a “the show is about to begin, please turn off your phone now” message).  And when you’re inside the theater, a quick scan of your Playbill cover will unlock all sorts of premium content that would make the 16-year-old kid in me all tingly, including video content, enhanced profiles on the actors and creative teams (none of those “you can only have 30 words” restrictions online!) and a bunch more.

Pretty cool, right?  iPhoners can get it here.  Android users have to wait a bit (it’s coming in 2016).

This announcement did have me wondering a couple things:

First . . . with all this enhanced content, will shows sell fewer souvenir programs?  Those souvenir books are a big revenue stream for shows.  Or does Playbill have a paid version of a digital souvenir book in mind that people could “unlock” through this app?

Second . . . is this the first step toward an all-digital Playbill?  Could the environmental activists get their way and could we be on our way to a paperless Broadway theater?

Maybe.  But not anytime soon.

Just like direct mail will never go out of style, there is something very valuable about holding something in your hand.  That yellow logo has more gold in it than you think.  They are souvenirs in themselves, and I don’t think they’re going anywhere.

Besides, if they did disappear, what would the 16-year-old Ken Davenport have to frame . . . Or what would 11-year-old Daisy Eagan sign when 19-year-old Ken Davenport asked her for her autograph?  #Awkward

Read about the app and forget what I just said by clicking here.


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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.