That show, of course, is Spring Awakening, which is already being described as American Idiot's precursor, and the comparisons between the two are both evident (director, star) and esoteric (themes, style, target audience). It could be that for some time - maybe always depending on how history plays out - that the two shows will be linked in discussion and criticism.
But first, let's look at the logo as it is today, prior to Broadway previews and opening.
This logo is a wise choice for the beginning of the campaign for several reasons. First and foremost, it is a nod - and virtual re-creation - of the Green Day album cover of the same title (below). This is a smart move because it will draw in true Green Day fans, who might fear that a Broadway version of their beloved group's most famous album might some how be radically altered from what they are used to. (Of course, they are already reacting to the music video of the Green Day/Cast recording of "21 Guns."). By using the same print style and recognizeable icon, the production is surely being inclusive of fans for whom this will be their first experience with a stage musical.
But the last show that really captured the imagination of teens and young adults was Spring Awakening, a show to which American Idiot might very well owe its existence. That audience has grown up some in the intervening years, and is now beyond itself (which the former show examined) and more a part of today's society, facing a fast-paced, war-torn world where they must balance the needs of sociey with a need for having their voices heard (which, I presume, is elemental to the latter show).
And so the commercial machine behind American Idiot is, and will be smart in the future to, referencing Spring Awakening in its advertising. They have so far. And I predict that in the future, as the ads evolve, that evolution will be very much like the older show, especially given the similarities in direction, design and casting. (I could write an entirely separate blog about the original, off-Broadway logo for Spring Awakening, but I will leave that for another time.)
First, notice the similarities between the original Broadway logos for each show:
Then, SA added an icon - what we now recognize as a cropped photo of Melchior and Wendla, but to the public at large, a young couple on the verge of sexual exploration, a key element of the plot and theme of the show. The young couple icon is analogous to the fist/heart-shaped hand grenade icon.
Then, as the show itself became an entity of its own, advertisers for SA played up the youthful abandon and rebellion of the show with a new poster that featured the logo above a collage of photos of the cast in various moments of the play, but when looked upon as a whole, resembles "Totally Fucked," the very clear moment of rebellion and, interstingly, the very clear moment of youthful joy. (Note: this image is not the exact poster, which also included billing at the bottom and a critical quote at the top, but I think you'll get the idea.)
The quote on the poster above, "Broadway may never be the same," from the New York Times was apt for that poster and show, and signals, I think, the very reason American Idiot can even exist as a stage musical.
I hope this new show takes Broadway by storm. Heaven knows theses days it could use a jolt of energy and great box office. And should that be the case, I have a feeling the show will start advertising visuals of the production, of John Gallagher, Jr., and as it grows up, more iconic imagery. Something tells me that there will be a version of the window card that will have a quote that compares it to Spring Awakening, and if it is even more fortunate, a quote about how it, too, will have changed musical theatre in some way.
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