Monday, November 29, 2010

LOGOS/MEDIA: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

I knew a Broadway show had become a national phenomenon when my dad called me after the 60 Minutes segment about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark aired last night.  "That may be the coolest thing I've ever seen!" he yelled into the phone (part excitement, part still not realizing that just because he's in Florida and I'm in Vermont, he doesn't need to shout into the phone).  "It sure does, Dad.  I can't wait to see it next Sunday!"  "I think I might want to see that.  Let me know how it is."  Of course, he doesn't follow the Internet or theatre websites, so I didn't have to tell him to stay away from that stuff until AFTER the show has been worked on and reviewed.  Imagine my surprise when he called me again this morning, having read The New York Times front page story about the "bumpy" opening.  "Uh-oh," he said, "sounds like there is trouble..."  "Yep, Dad, sure does.  But remember how much you loved The Lion King?  The same woman is in charge of this."  "OK!  Sign me up!"  There you have it.  And that is all I am going to say about the big batch of ugly surrounding the first preview of a not-ready show, until I see it Sunday.

In case you missed it, here's the 60 Minutes segment:

What I will talk about is the all-out media blitz surrounding the show - not including the above.  And it is really about time, right?  Of course, considering how much press the show has gotten for NOT happening, why waste good money promoting the show when you can get it for free?  Now that they have something to show, they are really putting it out there!  And they really have gone first class:  Annie Liebovitz photos in Vogue!  A 60 Minutes segment!  And TWO TV commercials!!

First, let's take a look at the logo:

I think the entire logo gives you a hint at what you will see and what you won't.  Interesting that the names above the title are the "show" selling points - a score by Bono and The Edge, directed by Julie Taymor.  For show folk, it lets us know to expect creative, stunning imagery.  For non-show folk, the draw might just be music legends from U2.  But even they are dwarfed by the real draw, Spider-Man himself hurling towards us, next web spinning as he moves.  A very motion oriented image, it signals that this guy won't be on the ground or clinging to rock walls made to look like skyscrapers.

Dominated from behind by a giant moon which illuminates the NYC skyline, the contrast of colors also is very telling - darkness can be dangerous, scary and very lonely, all of which certainly plays into the mythos of Spider-Man and the cryptic subtitle, "Turn Off the Dark."  But what I find most interesting is the type style of the title - a blurred, and partially incomplete lettering, which might suggest an incompleteness (and I don't mean the current state of the show) of Spider-Man's being.  We are at the beginning of Peter Parker's story, and as such the story is yet to be fulfilled.  Note, too, and especially, that the image of Spider-Man is not a crisp, clear black-edged icon/comic, but also has the look of a sketch - complete and colored in, but the lines are without definition.  Perhaps after the "dark" is turned off, Spider-Man himself is a clearer image to all.  The ambiguity and mystery only serve to add to the eye-catching appeal.  A+

Knowing that every Taymor production, both on stage and on film is a visual feast, it is nice to get some idea of what we'll be looking at in the Foxwoods Theatre.  It is a terrific bonus that Annie Liebovitz, the world-famous photog was commissioned to do Vogue's spread!  The pictures, minus the "glam staging" certainly reveal much about the detail, the other-worldliness and the colorful comic book world brought to life.  And has Jennifer Damiano ever looked more beautiful?

Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson

The Amazing Spider-Man on 42nd Street

Spider-Man battles his nemesis the Green Goblin
in order to save Mary Jane Watson as the soar over
the Foxwoods Theatre.

See the entire Vogue spread and article HERE.

And just today, the New York area will be treated to two commercials for the show, both very similar to the other.  Interestingly, both show in images the same thing as the logo:  You see Julie Taymor, Bono and the Edge rehearsing.  You see, too, that live actors, not animated or computerized images will be dancing, singing and swinging.  And you have to love the final image.  Spider-Man flying toward you, stopping at the edge of your TV screen (I think I'd hate that front row seat... it would scare me to death!).  Speaking of flying, we see rehearsal footage - untouched and revealing again that real people are doing this - of the spectacular, over the seats-in-midair stunts.  They have made the balconies prized seats without saying a word.  Very smart.  My only quibble is that there is SO MUCH to take in in just 30 seconds!  Smart, though, because now I want to see the ad again.  How many commercials can you say that about!!?

Here is one of those TV spots:

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  1. After I walked by the theatre last nite, saw the 60 minutes clip, and read the buzz after the show finally finished it's first preview last nite i RAN to buy a ticket for Thursday's preview. I WANT to see all the raw pieces before they come together and witness the true birth of a musical. It's almost like a backstage pass. For $60 for an Orchestra seat you can't beat it (i debated going for the mezzanine). I just feel bad for all the people from out of town who bought full price (or even worse, premium) seats for these performances. I think the one thing the producers could do to win some goodwill with the public and nay-saying media is to refund the ticket holders everything they paid above the $60 price point for at least the next two weeks. I mean what's another couple hundred thousand when you've already sunk $65 Million, right?

  2. Doug!

    Always good to hear from you! And thanks for the positive spin... I get so tired of all the bashing, you know? And I can't wait either! The theatre lover in me is as excited as can be at this really unique opportunity to see a show "in progress." (WOTV was a living lesson on professionalism in the same vein.)

    And I totally agree with you about the refund idea...there is a lot to be said for goodwill.



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