Planning the Perfect Theatre Opening Night Party
Let's be honest. Press Night parties can often be a last minute thought, or an event that no-one is quite sure what to do with.
They're very lovely, yes, but, well, they can be a bit similar after a while, and as lovely as it is to see old friends, catch up with fellow industry professionals and sneak as many canapes as you can muster, there really is something to be said about making it an event.
Making a show really is a BIG DEAL. It takes a lot of time, energy, people, blood (mostly fake, sometimes real), sweat, and often tears to create a performance, and everyone, from those on-stage, backstage, in the office, producers, agents, PAs, advertisers, deserve that moment to breathe in, and let loose... until the matinee tomorrow, that is.
Now, we're not saying that a Press Night is worth breaking the bank for, of course not. But to place a portion of your budget aside as a 'thank you pot' to create a fun, entertaining and vibrant atmosphere for your team would never go amiss.
And of course, what an opportunity Press Nights are! Opening Nights are amazing media hubs, with photos of guest interactions, stars, opportunities to network and connect, and of course possibly the first opportunity to see many members of the expansive show team in-person for a long time, since the beginning of a long process.
As both theatre people, and people who have planned a lot of events, we've been on both sides of the press night party, so we got together and came up with a few tips, tricks and opportunities to amp-up your press nights, some of which require minimal extra effort, with maximal positive outcomes!
Let's talk Location.
Perhaps one of the most important things to consider, the location of your event. Get close. And we mean as close as you can be without being in the foyer. Unless the foyer is great, in which case use the foyer! Thinking about those who've just performed, have to take off stage make-up, put on going-out-make-up, change outfits, and then take a bus across the city to the party, they'll be arriving just as the bar staff are clearing down! Having your party venue close to your performance venue also means your invited guests carry the momentum of the performance through to the party, and you're more likely to see everyone you want to see there if it's just a minute or two to walk from the Theatre to the party!
Fast Food, but not like that!
Seeing, performing in, and working on shows really does build an appetite. We aren't saying go full fish and chips (although we have seen full-portion street food done incredibly successfully at a press event)- but nibbles, canapes or treats to eat as guests arrive is a sure-fire way to ensure everyone is happy, ready to chat and mingle and most importantly, there to stay!
Bars do get busy at press events, we all know it, so adding a water station in a different location to the main bar area is a fantastic way for non-drinkers to refresh themselves, and drinkers to stay hydrated, without having to take a trip to the bar for a glass of water. We've also seen this work fantastically with soft drinks, and pre-mixed cocktails too.
To Speech or Not to Speech
It's lovely to celebrate the successes of your team, but it's important to decide if a speech is worthwhile at your press event. Nothing is more awkward than a room of 500 people straining to hear someone without a microphone, so planning ahead to use the sound system is always a good idea, and making sure that the party mood is still maintained is absolutely essential when planning speeches at a press event. Members of our team have been given cards with 'thank you' inserts in them before in lieu of speeches, which are always hugely appreciated as a keepsake, and a subtle but meaningful way to thank team members for their efforts.
It's a Press PARTY!
It really is a party, and an opportunity for those who've spent months working on a project to let their hair down. People have dressed up, got ready, and made their way to the venue to celebrate. Adding elements of entertainment, and creating an environment where guests are free to be themselves, have fun and make memories is always welcome.
Our most popular press night entertainment options are our Live Music, DJs and Photo Experiences.
Live Music helps break the mood, provides something for guests to watch and also adds a warmth to the space which recorded music doesn't. With subtle acoustic options or full live bands, the 'party' element is completely scaleable, and set lists can be carefully chosen to enhance the mood, and befit the show or musical the event is for.
Geek Chic's DJs are always a hit, as depending on the mood they can carefully select tracks, from backing music to dancing, and provide a great ambient mood which a playlist cannot. They're able to read the room and maintain energy, and with years of experience, our DJs can carefully programme tracks to ensure guests are happy, able to chat freely and still tap their toes throughout the evening.
Photo Experiences are our favourite Press Night addition, as they provide a room focal point, excellent marketing potential and a lot of fun for your buck. Used as an alternative to a Step-and-repeat photographer or in addition as a fun experience, our Photo Experiences can be completely customised and tailored to fit the mood and feel of the show and demographic of the event, with creative concepts at the core of what we do.
Talking of creativity, having creative options for media output from your press events is always a brilliant addition to your arsenal of tricks of the trade.
Our photo products are of course a great way to do this, as with branded outputs, we can create a really punchy opportunity for maximum show-awareness, and great future social media content for your PR team to savour.
Getting the show's company involved in taking interactive and fun photos in creative ways gets shares, and the more media for your channels, the better!
What do your guests 'take away' from your event? No, it's not about gift bags, or branded pens, but more memories and fun concepts. By adding creative ideas, making your event comfortable, fun and inventive, your guests will go away feeling like a million dollars, and ready for that next 8-show week.