From Stage to Screen to NFT
How Brian Stokes Mitchell Went from Incomparable to Non-Fungible.
Throughout his multi-decade long career, actor, singer, and talk show host, Brian Stokes Mitchell has made quite a name for himself.
Most recently he could be seen in a cameo in Netflix’s Tick Tick… Boom!. While a cameo may not seem like much, this one cemented the star affectionately known as Stokes as a legend. The part came during a scene director Lin-Manuel Miranda intended to be a love letter to Broadway. The song, titled Sunday, featured stars like Marc Shaiman, Beth Malone, and Bebe Neuwirth. Stokes was among the chosen few to be included in a number chalk full of legends.
But while Stokes has succeeded on both stage and screen, a recent digital turn has seen the actor breaking ground in a whole new way.
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are digital collectibles that have taken the crypto and collecting worlds by storm. Leveraging blockchain technology to validate ownership, these digital assets have become sought after by both crypto lovers and fans of all stripes. Companies, properties, and personalities across industries like sports, gaming, film and music have all leveraged NFTs to help market their products and bolster revenue. And now theatre has taken the digital stage.
George and Saul Co-Founder, Eric Neal, is shaking up theatre by introducing Third Act, the industry’s first NFT marketplace. And unsurprisingly, given his ubiquity in the theatre world, Stokes is lending his likeness to this groundbreaking endeavor with a series of NFTs.
The Stokes NFTs were ideated, designed, minted, and promoted by Third Act. And while being a quadruple threat may seem intimidating to some, it’s par for the course for Neal, who is used to wearing multiple hats from his work with George and Saul. In fact, George and Saul has experience in the theatre space, having produced Burn This, starring Adam Driver and Keri Russel, which earned three Tony nominations. From there, George and Saul helped produce a bevy of theatre projects, including shows like Herding Cats and Swept Away: The Musical, as well as having a hand in Stokes’s talk show, Crossovers Live!.
Given their history working in the medium, theatre NFTs seemed to be the logical next step. And while the communications company takes on clients like any agency would, they also focus on building their own brands. There’s no better example of the company’s brand building prowess building their own brands. There’s no better example of the company’s brand building prowess taking center stage than their work building Third Act. George and Saul invested time, money, and resources into the marketplace, while also bringing invaluable experience in the theatre industry to the table.
The results speak for themselves.
Third Act has been featured in outlets like Yahoo Finance and Broadway World. And in just a few short quarters, the marketplace has added an impressive repertoire of theatre properties to their NFT roster. Digital collectibles from groundbreaking shows like Herding Cats and personalities like Daniel J. Watts and Kristin Chenoweth have been added to the site’s digital stockpile. And much like their stable of stars and shows, the platform’s impact on theatre continues to grow.
That’s because both George and Saul and Third Act aren’t just changing the ways fans collect. They’re disrupting the entirety of the theatre industry. “There are so many stories that want to spill off stage, but no one is thinking about NFTs as a platform for them,” says Neal. Giving theatre productions a way to reach audiences off-stage isn’t just benefiting fans, it’s giving the entire industry a long overdue (and much welcome) shakeup.
Third Act’s marketplace allows audiences to purchase NFTs as well as sell and auction any collectibles that they own. The beauty of Third Act is that it gives the original IP owner a percentage of every transaction made through the platform. So actors, writers, and producers see royalties from every sale and auction their collectible is involved in, from the moment it is live on the platform until forever. This opens theatre productions to an evergreen source of revenue, something desperately needed in the wake of recent show closures.
But Third Act is not just giving shows new sources of revenue. It’s giving the entire industry a digital overhaul.
While theatre is a notoriously fickle business when it comes to new technologies, Neal sees crypto and Broadway as two peas in a pod. “Theatre can be seen as fringe, and so can crypto,” Neal says, “but they both have such passionate followings. They’re both such creative and supportive communities.” With help from the crypto community, the theatre industry can look forward to a bright digital future.
As the entertainment industry shifts to digital and VOD options, live entertainment is going to need to find ways to catch up. NFTs are the first step in bringing theatre into an online future. One needs to look no further than Third Act’s work with Herding Cats to see the playbook for how shows can combine NFTs and streaming into a potent strategy for overcoming a digital gap. And with George and Saul’s help, Third Act makes the NFT creation process easy.
Those who partner with Third Act aren’t just partnering with a marketplace, they’re partnering with a full-service communications agency in George and Saul that understands how to build brands and launch successful campaigns. Those looking to create NFTs for their shows or properties have access to a team of experienced designers and marketers, which can help those who feel lost in this brave new world take the steps needed to bring their shows digital.
Producers and IP owners can also look towards the likes of Brian Stokes Mitchell, and other industry leaders who have partnered with Third Act, for help in spreading the word about the digital collectibles.
“It’s great that such a respected artist is involved with Third Act,”
Neal said of Stokes.
“He’s a leader of industry and his involvement in Third Act’s NFTs can open actors to new ways forward in their career.”
Changing the way an industry thinks about itself can seem like an impossible task, one made even harder when the industry is so engrained in old models the way theatre is. But with groundbreakers like Brian Stokes Mitchell, Third Act, and George and Saul leading the way, the possible doesn’t seem all that impossible. In fact, it looks probable.