Wednesday, June 8, 2011

YouTube on Broadway: The 2011 Tony Nominees, Part IV: The Plays

As the hubbub surrounding the Tony Awards reaches its frenzied peak, let's take a final look at how shows are advertising themselves.  The previous three segments of this series focused on the Best Musical and Best Musical Revivals.  This final part will look at some of the ads for contenders in the Best Play.

Good People

This is an excellent clip, short and to the point.  Though the length is probably more economics-driven than an artistic choice, the creators of this managed artistry, anyway.  The show logo come to life, along with a snappy voice over that emphasizes the many facets of "good", and additional glimpses of homes that are clearly from opposite sides of the tracks combine to create interest and nail the central ideas and themes of the work.  And what a great way to set up the conflict between "the man" and "the woman."  It makes you want to see how it plays out.  Interesting, too, is that the voice is female...  Grade: A


One can only imagine how difficult this must be to market to the general public.  The title probably has many a person thinking it has to do with the Middle East, religion, etc.  Not many people probably realize it has to do with Great Britain and its denizens, which is another hard sell if that fact is known.  Instead, the producers have chosen to use their 15 seconds to capture its surest audience, likely in hopes that they in turn will spread the news by word-of-mouth (how old-fashioned and effective).  And they go right for the jugular of die-hard play fans, using quotes exclusively from The New York Times, the only paper that counts among this group.  Then, it uses the quote about event theatre to seal the deal.  Add a great shot of an in character Mark Rylance, who any "smart" theatre goer knows, loves and talks about like they are friends of the guy.  A win in all ways for a play that must be a bitch to promote!  Grade: A-

The Motherfucker with the Hat

Talk about hard to promote - you can't even say the play's title aloud!  Again, a brief commercial that maximizes its seconds by emphasizing what is likely important to its target audience.  First, though all of the major cast members are shown, the only one mentioned in the voice over is Chris Rock.  The quotes emphasize the comic aspects of the show (I wonder how surprised some audience members are to find that it is serious, too).  And it makes sure to tell us that the show is short, and might be easier to sit through just in knowing that.  Throw in that the show is up for some Tonys and Mr. Rock's foray into theatre is all the more legit and might get a few more "regular" audience members, too.  Imagine how many more patrons they'd get if they could just say, "motherfucker!"  Grade: A

War Horse

(NOTE: This ad is for the West End production, but is identical to the version shown for the Lincoln Center production, substituting the Lincoln Center Theater in place of the New London Theatre.  I just couldn't get a decent version that adapts to this blog format.)

I think the ad speaks for itself, as it is carefully put together as the production is.  It nails the emotion - boy hugging horse, men marching at war, parents clutching each other with a letter in hand.  It nails the epic sweep of the staging - the horses, the tanks, the huge cast.  And it really hits home about those magnificent animals.  The voice over adds legitimacy, just in case one thinks they are seeing a children's book brought to life and nothing else.  And the images punctuated with reputable print quotes are the icing on the cake.  If you want to see the Broadway version, go to  Grade: A+

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