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Online marketing is brilliant for theater

At the risk of making myself sound much older than I am, I graduated from college before the advent of the Internet.

I know, ancient.

I remember my senior year when a professor assigned a research project using this "new" Internet. The class was not happy about it.

"Why can't we just have a good ol' fashioned library assignment?" we moaned.

Can you imagine?

I worry that the advent of such an amazing tool has rendered my marketing degree useless. It's heartbreaking.

So what does this have to do with theater? Actually, plenty.

When I got my degree there was absolutely no discussion on how to market online. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and such didn't exist. Now everyone is marketing online.

These days, theaters, theater companies and individual shows all have links to join Facebook groups or follow them on Twitter — and it's quite brilliant.

If you use Twitter, you've likely heard that Tony-nominated actor Gavin Creel injured his ankle and "tweeted" a picture of his leg in a brace, followed by a tweet stating, "Keep dem vibes positive, healing is on the way!"

I don't tweet, partly because I feel silly saying it, and partly because not even my mom cares if I'm "standing in line at the store" or "heating up leftovers."

At any rate, Creel's injury happened during a performance of "Hair," and his understudy stepped in to finish the evening.

Apparently he didn't tweet (see? I feel silly) how it happened, but he is supposed to be out through this evening's performance.

I'm hardly an online expert (remember college?), but it's fascinating to watch how theaters and shows are figuring out how to reach new audiences.

Another Twitter example: Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, the Tony Award-winning creators of "Next to Normal," are going to use tweets to come up with a new song.

By having followers tweet answers to questions, the duo will write a song that will debut at the 92YTribeca in October, though there are no plans to incorporate the song into the show.

As for me, I love watching it unfold, but I might have to head back to school to really figure it out.

Here are a couple of other things you might want to tweet about. (I still feel silly!)

"Glee": The season premiere is fast approaching. The show featuring Broadway stars Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison also features plenty of great tunes. A director's cut of the pilot will re-air Sept. 2, 8 p.m., Ch. 13; the season kicks off Sept. 9, 8 p.m., Ch. 13.

LIZA! I have your attention now, don't I? Ms. Minnelli is heading west. On Aug. 28-29 she'll perform "An Evening with Liza Minnelli" at the Hollywood Bowl.

If you can't quite get together in time to catch that, you could try for her upcoming stint at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Sept. 25-30. Tickets are $75.35-$113.85 (www.mgmgrand.com).

e-mail: ehansen@desnews.com