keskiviikko 28. maaliskuuta 2012

Tanz der Vampire: The Finnish Fandom

Jouko Enkelnotko &
Ville Salonen.
© Eclipsis ry
Tanz der Vampire had a small fanbase in Finland already some years before the Finnish premiere in Seinäjoki, but also new fans quickly found the musical. In the end the theatre had quite a fan phenomenon in their hands, with people seeing the show over and over again, fighting for tickets for the last shows and drowning the cast in presents. In Finland theatre has traditionally been for elderly people, so I was happy to see lots of younger people in theatre, too. On the other hand, judging by the reactions also the grannies - and even middle-aged men! - seemed to enjoy the show, so thinking that all that older people want to see is Sound of Music is definitely underestimating people. Do it well and with attitude, and they'll enjoy it. Elisabeth in Turku did the mistake of trying to make the show more fit for "conservative" taste and it didn't work, but the crew of Vampyyrien tanssi hit the nail with daring to give their all.

© Starlene at DeviantArt
Something in the musical made people more open, cheerful and wild. Finns, who quite rarely freewillingly talk to strangers, suddenly started to spontaneously chat with people sitting next to them, asking how many times they had seen the musical, and interacting with each other also online. I know many people who got new friends through the musical. Someone even tried to hit on me at the theatre. :-P I think this was also the first time in the history of Finnish theatre that a show got enthusiastic stagedoor stalkers who waited for the actors after the show, took photos with them and brought them presents. The usual way to bring flowers to actors in Finland is to leave them to the foyer staff who then deliver them to the actors for the final applauds. Also the press noticed this and did some interviews with hardcore fans who saw the musical 20 times, took tattoos, dressed as the characters and draw fan art.

A fan's tattoo in Jouko Enkelnotko's (Herbert) handwriting.
© Seinäjoen Sanomat
The final show was a blast. The fans sang a Thank You song to the cast, made in the melody of Carpe noctem <Video>, and after that it was possible to take photos of the cast members on stage. <Results here, here and here>

All this is familiar to those accustomed to Central European, Broadway or West End fans, but for Finns this is something new. I'm glad to see people get more active and actually show their love instead of just applauding politely, though of course it also has some downsides if actors don't want to talk after a hard day of work or feel weirded out by random people who want to hug them. Back in 2006 I was in the derniere of Elisabeth that also gained a big fanbase, and there everyone settled with a bit longer standing ovations and then went home. There has clearly been some development after that.

© Starlene at DeviantArt
Other links:
* About the fan phenomenon in Seinäjoen Sanomat: <Link>
* The Finnish national broadcasting company YLE showed an interview with a fan in TV, with lots of footage from the show. <Video>
* A fan interview in the local newspaper Ilkka after the premiere. <Link>
* Interview with two fans in the local newspaper Seinäjoen Sanomat. <Link>
* Photos taken in the last show in Ilkka. <Link>

There was also some fan action provided by the theatre, like a Halloween backstage tour where people were shown the sets and costumes and they could meet some cast members. There were also Meet&Greets with Jouko Enkelnotko (Herbert) and Ville Salonen (Alfred).

I'm going to miss the atmosphere in the theatre. The cast enjoyed what they were doing and you could feel it, and also the fans started to feel like one big family. I honestly think the theatre closed the show too early, goodness knows why because it was practically sold out, but I guess we just have to live with it.

Memories in the theatre's foyer.

6 kommenttia:

Siiri kirjoitti...

True that, the spirit in the theatre was something I've never experienced before!
The next logical step is that the grannies start stagedooring, too..? ;)

Thanks so much for the double art feature!!

ihmepensas kirjoitti...

You're welcome! I really like your drawing style. :)

I wouldn't wonder if I saw stagedooring grannies. They're usually more allowed to hug people and so on, and some that I know take full advantage of it. :-P

mia kirjoitti...

A bit off-topic, but since you brought up the Finnish production of Elisabeth I was wondering whether you know if there's a complete recording out there or a libretto. I now there isn't an official one but these kind of things tend to circulate among fans.
I'm studying translation and am interested in how these songs were adapted.

ihmepensas kirjoitti...

Mia: You can order the translations from Nordic Drama Corner with the Tekstitilaukset form: :)

Elwingda kirjoitti...

It always makes me so happy when there are shows on which encourage the younger Finns (i.e. teens and young adults) in to go to the theatre. They are the ones who'll be ultimately responsible for keeping the Finnish theatre tradition going. 'Tanz', 'Wicked' and 'Les Mis' amongst others have done an incredible job in that sector.

ihmepensas kirjoitti...

Elwingda, I agree. Children's plays are a part of every theatre's repertoire and many of the ones I've seen have been excellent, but I often feel that the theatres forget the teenagers or just try to make something really pretentious and wannabe-cool for them that ends up being pathetic. In Central Europe teens and young adults crowd the musical theatres and I think it's likely to later lead them to straight plays, too.