Monday, September 12, 2011

LOGOS: Follies (2011 Revival)

The Follies logo in practice

Perhaps the wisest thing the producers/company of this 2011 revival of Follies did was NOT repeat - or even really attempt - any more than a suggestion of the iconic logo from the original 1972 production.  That version, cracked statue and dynamic lettering in primarily bright orange is widely regarded as one of the greatest Broadway art logos ever created.  The current revival resembles it only in composition: the largest single figure is the face of a woman, crowned bu the word "Follies" in dynamic lettering.

The Title Lettering

And what about that lettering?  It speaks volumes about the show's story, themes and setting.  First, each letter is rimmed in gold, certainly a not to the rich, sumptuousness of follies shows in general, and the elegance of a by gone era in this history of theatre.  Notice, too that each letter is filled with an almost sparkly blend of a soft blue, rising to an elegant pink.  The combination itself is both strong and softly feminine, like a showgirl, and colored in that fabulous blend of two colors and sparkling like so many follies-styled gowns might have been at the hey-day of that style of theatre.  Yes, the logo's lettering does suggest a bygone elegance that is certainly featured in its still talented, but fading fast company of players who have returned to celebrate their past only to find the decay of the present taking over the theater they are in and the lives they are leading.

The collage of images below the title, as well as the way in which the credits are arranged on the larger poster version definitely suggest a passage of time, as one might have seen on the paper posters that used to adorn Shubert Alley.  Today, large plastic and vinyl painted posters hawk the latest Broadway hits.  Back in the day, those same images were conveyed on glued sheets of colorful paper, that were literally torn down (and apart) in order for a new poster to take its place.  The glue was such that it was nearly impossible to cleanly remove one poster before gluing up another.  Over the years, layers of these things would build up, and eventually, bits and pieces of logos and photos from shows past would peek out from under the more modern posters glued over top.  And sometimes, a lighter image, once glued, would become almost translucent such that that image would be superimposed over hints of what came before.

The Artwork for Follies by FRAVER

All of this happens in the colorful, thought-provoking imagery of the Follies logo presented here.

Notice that each "layer" is "torn" to expose parts of what came before it:  smiles on youthful faces, both male and female, headless chorines in colorful costumes.  There is one eye, staring out at us in the upper right corner.  Are these tears, stains or phantoms of dancers in the bottom corners?  And surrounding the face of the said, plaintive main image are young, supple lips and wisps of feathers.  She is not smiling, her heavily made up eyes looking up and off in the distance as the memories of what was swirl around her.  Snatches of memories, torn from a full life, some focused on some youthful details, others colorful, if incomplete memories.

The Complete Logo and Credits
on the Follies Windowcard

And the poster's most vibrant, present colors, are reserved for the most current "tears" of a poster, the cast members, authorship credits and critical quote.  Their presentation is both very now and very then.

Eye-catching, hinting at past beauty, and haunting.  That is the world of Follies in a feathered, bugle-beaded nutshell. 

Grade: A

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