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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

LOGOS: Wonderland: A New Alice. A New Musical.

I think I should be upfront about something before I launch into any sort of analysis of the logo for Broadway's Wonderland, which began previews yesterday at the Marquis Theatre.  If you've read my blog with any regularity, it will come as no surprise, either.  But the truth is... I dislike any and every thing to do with the story Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass or whatever title you want to give it.  I had to read the book in college.  Hated it.  Sat through the Disney movie.  Hated it.  The miniseries (all three of them), the other (and apparently soon to be on Broadway) Disney version..hate, hate and REALLY hate.  You might be asking yourself, "Why, Jeff, if you hate it so much, why do you keep seeing different versions of it?"  Well, I figure if there are so many versions, there must be something to it that I am missing.  And so I keep trying.  And I am almost done.  I swear.  At least half the reason I'm seeing the new Broadway show is because I want to have seen every new musical that opens this season.  And the other half of me secretly wants to like it.  But I'm not counting on it.

I say all of the above as a preface to perhaps the most shocking - OK I'm being dramatic - bit of truth I am about to lay on you.  I think the logo/print advertising for this show is one of the two best of the entire season!  (I don't think anything will top the beautiful, haunting The Scottsboro Boys...)

First, let's take a look at the out-of-town tryout version:

Pre-Broadway

I'll be brief: it is ugly, too dark, even if it might suggest the hole Alice goes down, and the tag line?  "Follow your heart" under a glowing heart that appears to be descending down the dark hole?  Duh.  And lastly... the rabbit head in the New York skyline? CREEPY.  All I can say is that if the same care went into making changes between Texas/Florida and Broadway for the show as they did with the vastly improved logo, I have real hope for the show.

As much as the current tag line/"part of the title" pains me, it is a huge improvement over the schmaltzy "Follow Your Heart."  And at the very least "A New Alice.  A New Musical" completes the at-a-glance telling of the story of the show, and puts to rest any ideas that you will simply be seeing another film-to-stage adaptation.

In the title only version, it is easier to focus on the words.  I really like the simple, thin lines of the typeface of  "Wonderland," especially how the "W" and final "D" are lowered and allow the tag lines to snuggle in with the actual title.  The Victorian style of the letters and the vibrant, but not bright yellow, draws subtle attention away from the central image and yet seems to draw you back up to it, too.  I love the type style here...I have even found myself doodling it on not pads - sick, I know.


And what about that central image?  It is a brilliant combination of what we already know and how the show will be different all at once.  We have the ingenious black silhouette that wordlessly transports us back to the time of Lewis Carroll.  I'd venture a guess that a silhouette of the Mad Hatter has adorned many a nursery wall.  And there he is, at the head of the table, all three feet of him, lording over yet another tea party.  His gaze across the table brings us to a silhouette of a grown woman, standing up, and lording over him right back.  Which then makes you look at the title again.  "A New Alice" indeed!  No more the meek almost too good to be true well-behaved Alice of yore.  No, this Alice is all grown up and we'd better listen to what she has to say, tea party be damned.  And of course, we should note the color of the background of the silhouette.  Is it a sunset?  An impending summer storm?  The orange/yellow of the sky and clouds is an appropriately vague choice, because it allows the viewer to decide if the mood here is ominous or not.  No matter what, it should raise questions.

It is the full image, though, that really makes this the complete and well developed artwork that it is.  With the upside down New York skyline just below the title against a blue, lightly clouded sky, we find out so much.  Being upside down, we immediately get that Alice has gone back down that hole.  Being New York City, we know we are no longer in uptight England, but an urban, modern setting and sensibility.  And the bright blue sky full of cloudy wisps immediately tells us the things are good in today's New York, at least for this show.

On Broadway

The entire thing is so smart.  It blends a lot of what we know, sets us up for a new take on an older work, and it pretty much tells the story at a glance.  The 30 second rule I always talk about really applies here.  That initial 5 second glance will easily turn into a 15 second look see - as the image and title make you pause, "something familiar, but different, what is it?"  And the eye is drawn downward... New show based on old, familiar story (literature/Disney/Alice fans are already hooked)...that takes place in today's New York City (New Yorkers are hooked) and the last few seconds left draw our eyes to the whole of the art work, and, hopefully, at least an "I'll add it to my list of  shows to see," if not an actual sale.  This logo got me to buy one.  No lie.

Grade: A+

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Jeff
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