Monday, May 17, 2010

YouTube on Broadway: The Tony Nominees, Part 3

Continuing my series on the Tony nominated musicals and their commercials, today I will look at the four new musicals of the season that were not nominated for Best Musical, but did receive Tony nominations: The Addams Family, Come Fly Away, Everyday Rapture and Sondheim on Sondheim.

The Addams Family

I had the hardest time trying to embed their current commercial - there is no voice over, but rather close ups of the cartoon family members with clever sayings about each, closing with the full family cartoon portrait and the title, with ticket information.  This works because 1) it does not reference the TV show or the movies and focuses on the source, the New Yorker cartoons; 2)  the clever sayings quickly establish the comic tone, while the creepy sound effects still let us know that these are the creepy and kooky Addamses we know and love; 3) minus the star names makes it useable throughout the life of the show and reminds me of the old Les Miz, Cats, Phantom days when the logo got you to the B.O. not the stars of the show.  That commercial gets:  Grade: A- (Music rather than just creepy sound effects might better point up that this is, in fact, a musical.)

I could, however, embed the Chicago try-out commercial, which is similar - background noise, no tunes, close-ups of the cartoon characters.  But what makes it different is also very telling about how things have turned out.  As you will see, this commercial focuses on the star power of the cast, as each cartoon potrait morphs into their headshot and name.  You can also tell that the spacing/timing of each would have easily allowed for critical quotes to be added.  Had this show gotten great reviews, this would have been a great commercial, though again, I think adding music would help. 

Grade: A

Come Fly Away

By far the slickest, best produced commercial of the season.  You are instantly transported into the world of the show, which remarkably resembles all of the trappings at the Marquis Theatre, only all combined into an actual club set, versus the stage set.  The primary darw, the Sinatra songs, are front and center as he croons over the voice over.  The sexy, romantic couples swirl and dip in and out of the frame (predominantly Holley Farmer, John Selya and breakout star, Karine Plantadit, and stylish jazzy moves and acrobatics which are the hallmark of the Tharp choreography gets the lion's share of the screen time, and rightfully so.  It is also super cool that the "alternate cast" appears with the "primary cast," notably Cody Green and Ron Todorowski in a brief dance with hats solo.  The filming also has a "flying" feel to it, connoting the title and ends with a starlit sky in which the stars come together to form Sinatra, our final image and chief selling point.

Grade: A+

Everyday Rapture

The commercial is as cheesy and lacking in production value as the show itself, so at least potential audiences can see what they are getting up front.  The producers, though, were very wise to include "rapturous" quotes from the over-zealous Ben Brantley, especially the one that mentions Bette Midler, as the show very much resembles a Wal-mart caliber version of that kind of show.  And most wisely, all snarkiness aside, they do manage to make the truly lovely and talented Sherie Rene Scott look like a star, which, some day I hope she will really be.  Still...  the background song they chose... not catchy, not memorable... ick.

Grade: B-  (I believe this is actually the commercial made from the off-Broadway run, with the end date added.)

Sondheim on Sondheim

I loved the show, I really did.  But if there was ever a way to make a Broadway musical feel clinical and scholarly, this is it.  Even Sondheim fans (myself included) must feel preached to about his complexity, blah blah blah.  I though the show was really all about making his seemingly unapproachable songs approachable.  This makes it feel like you are going to a seminar, hosted by the three stars, Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat and Barbara Cook.  The one element I think they get right is having the three stars be the visual, if not vocal, focus, as each would certainly draw a segment of the target audience.  The most clever things are the references to the chair that lead to the final image of the whole logo, which includes Sondheim in the chair.  After all, he, too, appears in the show, even if it is just as screen image.  For such a good show, this commercial is a huge yawn.

Grade: C

Coming soon:  the musical revival contenders' commercials.

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