Saturday, May 8, 2010

YouTube on Broadway: The Tony Nominees, Part 1

It's been some time since I last blogged about the television commercials for shows.  Thanks to YouTube, those of us who don't live in the NYC viewing area can see these little 30 second gems. 

I thought today that I'd take a look at the commercials for the two most diverse musicals that are up for Best Musical 2010, Fela! and American Idiot.  I can't imagine two more diametrically opposed shows, can you?


First up is the only show of the four that I haven't see yet, Fela!  Can someone please write and tell me how the title is pronounced?  I've heard it pronounced like "filet," which I'm pretty sure is wrong.  I've heard it pronounced, on the Broadway Channel, no less, as "feh LAH."  And this commercial pronounces it like "fella."  Anyone?

From an advertising standpoint, I have to say that this commercial really works for me, and has even gotten me one step closer to going.  I love the emphasis on Fela himself, while is culture surrounds him - the dancers are beautiful and colorfully dressed, and oh so limber!  His signature sax figures prominently, too.  And I especially like how the reviews appear in the background, like handwritten graffiti (and I don't mean the vandalism kind, I mean the artistic kind).  And of course, selecting a segment of the show (assuming it is actually in the show, and if it isn't I'd be very disappointed) that highlights the African tribal culture through the use of florescent body paint.  It is exciting, dark and colorful all at once, and really gives the flavor of the show.  I'd give this ad a grade A.  What do you think?

American Idiot

I will assume that since it has opened, a newer commercial is on TV for American Idiot, considering that this one trumpets its impending opening.  Still it is easy to see where the voice over and screen shots could be easily switched out.

Now I come to this one with knowledge of the production, so I might be a bit less naive about its content, but I can still say that this one works as well.  And I think this show is a tough sell.  Let's face it, Green Day's audience is not made up primarily of theatregoers.  In fact, I'd venture to say that the vast majority of initial audiences has been made up of first timers.  To that end, I think it was wise to include the genesis from the album to the stage and interspersing animated graphics that resemble the album's iconic images. 

As far as the stage footage, I think they again chose wisely.  They show exciting theatricalized moments - I bet the flying sequence gets a few tickets sold each time it airs.  It also shows close ups of John Gallagher, Jr. singing directly at us, sounding very rock start-concertish, and it sounds very much like the album when he wails, "I don't wanna be an American idiot!"  Again, this might lure those skeptical Green Day fans as well as theatre fans who remember their beloved Moritz.  And finally, how wise to also show that the cast doesn't include the band itself, and in fact has a fairly large cast, rocking their asses off, including several girls, which, of course, would not be at a Green Day concert. 

In short, I think this ad captures both the genre of the music and the theatricality of this version.  The best of both worlds, I think.  I'd give this ad a grade A as well.  What do you think?

Coming up this week: the commercials for the other two Best Musical nominees, Memphis and Million Dollar Quartet.  Plus, a look at commercials for shows that didn't make the cut:  Come Fly Away and The Addams Family.

For all of my blogs related to this season's Tony Awards, click on "Tony Awards" at the top of the blog, just under my title.  Thanks for reading!

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