Theater-Kid TikTok loves new social media music trend

Nobody – not a dictator, not a politician, not a celebrity, not an influencer – has more power than a high school theater director. For a small community of theater children, the director is the person whose approval you most desire in the world, above his parents, his friends and even above God. And no decision is more likely to impact the trajectory of the high schooler’s year than which musical the director chooses to make next year.

Marji Eldreth, music teacher at Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington, Delaware, is no doubt well aware of this. That’s why she’s been keeping her students hooked daily this semester by revealing, by elimination, which musical the school will be performing next year. Every day, she takes a musical’s logo off her piano and tears it up in front of her class, explaining why it didn’t make it this year. (“I love this show. It’s an awesome show. We’re just not going to do it in school next year. I’m going to disappoint a lot of people…it’s Ragtime.”) And she documents the whole process of dramatic elimination on TikTok, for her 24,000 delighted followers to witness.

@marjieldreth

Reply to @nan.tuckette #theatre #theatre #cabcallowayschoolofthearts #ComeDanceWithMe #broadwaymusicals #eliminationday #reveal #ripthemusical #education #music #musicteacherstiktok #broadway

♬ original sound – Marji Eldreth

The appeal of watching a high school theater director slowly reveal what show her students are going to put on is hard to pin down. After all, unless family members or friends are enrolled in her school, few Eldreth followers are likely to have invested in the musical that a performing arts school in Delaware will play the next year, and most of them won’t be watching the final production either (although Eldreth did set up her school’s latest production, a rousing rendition of Mama Mia! on Youtube).

Eldreth’s videos seem to strike a chord with current and former theater kids, who know intimately the feeling of waiting, anxiously, to see how their casting destiny unfolds next year (think for example, if you’re an alto, and the show’s lead role is the lyric soprano alone – you’re SOL, baby). User @mattsilar sums up the call this way: “Every day my For You page says: you don’t know this lady, you don’t know this school, you don’t know these students. But you care about the musical they’re doing next year. You care so much, like people care about the pug with the bones.

@mattsilar

Why am I so invested?!? #theatrekid #tiktok #musicals #voiceteacher #actingcoach

♬ original sound – mattsilar

The amount of engagement generated by Eldreth’s videos has also spawned similar trends in other high school musical theater directors eager to take their power trip – ahem, sorry, the special bond they have with their students – nationally.

This week on Don’t Let This Flop, rolling stone‘s internet news and culture podcast, co-hosts Brittany Spanos and Ej Dickson discuss Eldreth and High School Musical TikTok, plus Spokane pizza, Britney Spears’ pregnancy (and Lindsay Lohan’s pregnancy rumor), and why the hell Al Pacino is hauling around a Shrek phone case.

DLTF is released Wednesdays on all audio streaming platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Stitcher and more.