We say TikTok, you say (______________ fill in the blank). Whatever your response, and whether you’re a student or adult theatre lover, we know you’ve heard of TikTok, which launched in September 2016. Then, in less than five short years, TikTok’s user base reached 689 million users per month (DataReportal, February, 2021). Sure…go ahead and re-read that stat. Then join us in a universal and resounding, “WhatTheWhat?!”

Kat Mokrynski, a student blogger at Broadway World, said this about TikTok theatre in June 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic: “Ultimately, TikTok has become a place where theatre kids can express themselves and share their love for theatre while shows are shut down around the world. Whether it’s posting clips from shows or sharing opinions, ‘musical theatre kid TikTok’ is a place where like-minded individuals can connect over their shared passions.”

TikTok Theatre Workshop at ITF

Since millions of theatre-lovin’ students (and adults) are using TikTok, we offered a TikTok Musicals workshop with Thomas Schultheis at the 2021  International Theatre Festival (ITF). We hope you’re able to join Thomas,
but if you miss the workshop, read on and get to know him.

How did you get your start in the theatre?
Theatre started for me during my freshman year of High School in Midlothian, Virginia. In my first show, I was cast as Harry in our production of My Fair Lady.

What’s the greatest gift of being an International Thespian Society alum?
I found my people in theatre and the ITS community has served me my whole life. Honestly, the sense of belonging to something special was powerful. Learning that we had to work together to accomplish our goals taught me so much.

What’s the importance of learning about TikTok theatre?
Social media platforms are providing new ways to express creativity. They offer platforms for dynamic exchanges, meaningful collaboration, and a place to build a community. The benefits, especially for an adult/teacher taking a TikTok theatre workshop, include a better understanding of the newer language that’s developing on social media platforms. The platform’s access for the arts community may at first appear superficial. However, authentic talent and skills are on display to a much wider audience, which opens up many potential opportunities and connections. Adults and teachers would benefit by diving into these newer platforms to also discover how creative, innovative, and exciting it can be.

I continue to participate in workshops myself. For example, I participated in a Freestyle Love Supreme workshop where I learned the basics of beatboxing. I also took a Hamilton hip-hop dance workshop. Both workshops showed me how important it is to keep learning, risking, and stepping outside of our comfort zones, not only in theatre, but in life.

What makes you particularly well suited to teach this workshop?
I’ve been fortunate enough to perform on Broadway, work with Disney for 15 years, and develop workshops since 2015 with content that’s relevant and forward-thinking. Since earning my Master of Arts in Strategic Communications, I’ve paid close attention to social media and the ways it opens up opportunities for anyone who has access to the platforms.

Aspiring performers now have fresh, creative outlets to showcase their talents and abilities that have never existed before. My workshops are designed to be interactive, engaging, and encourage the participants to take creative risks in a supportive space.

And, last but not least, choose one for each:
Hamilton or Hadestown? Hamilton

Ballet, Hip-Hop, or Tap?

Hero or villain?

What’s the most dynamic performance you’ve ever seen?
My answer has the benchmark of “which shows did I see multiple times because I was so inspired.” The original Off-Broadway production of Violet at Playwrights Horizons was so moving and impactful to me that I literally walked out of the show and went straight to the box office to purchase tickets to see it again. The ending of that show still takes my breath away. Also, the 1998 Broadway revival of Cabaret. I’ll never forget walking into Henry Miller’s Theatre. A dancer was warming up on stage as another performer was playing the violin, period newspapers were posted on the walls, table lamps were dimly lit on the cabaret tables. All of these amazing elements created an immersive, haunting, and completely unforgettable experience.

Thomas Schultheis is on LinkedIn if you’d like to connect.

Patty Craft is Content Manager for Dramatics.org. She lives and writes on 10 acres in southwestern Ohio where she also hikes to her heart’s content. If you have a story idea share it with us here.

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