Theater applies itself to iPhone

By Bertha Serrano

Although there are countless applications for the iPhone, one company managed to find a need for one and fulfilled it by creating a newly launched application.18

On April 21, Broadway in Chicago became the first theater company to launch an application for iPhone users. This new app allows people to receive all necessary theater information without having to  look online.

Eileen LaCario, vice president at Broadway in Chicago, has been with the company for nine years. She said the theater considers new ideas and takes steps each year to move forward. This year, their iPhone application is what will help them spread the word about their shows faster and more effectively.

“We’re constantly looking for more ways to make it easier and more accessible to buy theater tickets,” she said. “I think this is just another one of those opportunities and options for theater patrons to be closer to the buying experience.”

Features for the free app include listings of current and upcoming shows, ticket purchases and travel directions for their theater and nearby parking. Users can also access a list of nearby restaurants and hotels, as well as receive updates through e-mail alerts and learn about offers.

Though there isn’t a big difference between the website and the app, LaCario said, it compacts information and makes it easier to navigate and find what users are looking for without having to navigate through a website.

The app is set to be updated whenever the website is updated. David D’Angelo, the creator of the app, runs LittleBoxCreations.com, a design and development site.

He said the application is the first he has created of its kind. Although he didn’t come across any issues during the three weeks of producing and creating it, the application took longer to launch due to the approval process.

“They gave me a list of information they wanted to display for each show, and they wanted to be able to click to buy tickets and click to call by phone,” D’Angelo said. “They gave me that kind of information, and I was involved where I not only made the iPhone app, but I had to make it so it was easy for them to update.”

Since the app just launched, it’s too soon to tell how many people are using it and how they feel about it. LaCario said they were expecting at least 1,000 downloads the day it launched.

Theater enthusiast and blogger Scott Zacher writes ChicagoTheaterBlog.com.  He launched the site in August 2007 after he started playing the piano for different theater shows and directing the orchestras.

In his blog, he writes reviews, news, theater clips and audition information for those involved or interested in the theater world.  He spends his time writing musical theater plays and when he was a graduate student at Columbia, he wrote a musical called “Flashers Sleepover” in 2002.

Although he doesn’t own an iPhone, he said he doesn’t see himself using this app if he had one.

“I can’t see how this will bring more [of an] audience because it will be people that are already theater enthusiasts,” Zacher said. “[They’re] making an image that they are out there and for people to keep them in their mind when they’re buying tickets.”

For him, the most helpful thing he knows of is the theater’s YouTube channel, as he finds it useful for his blog.

“If I was not part of the theater community, then I would use it,” he said. “Theater is based all on the experience of going to the theater. It would be nice if they would record rehearsals and interviews with the actors to have a connection with them, and reach out to people and make them feel like you’re part of their company.”

For more information, visit BroadwayInChicago.com.