Monday, November 28, 2011

Broadway on TV: Bonnie and Clyde

With just 32 seconds to make enough of an impression that potential ticket buyers will remember that a show exists AND generates enough interest that they will purchase tickets, a Broadway commercial has a lot of work to do.  Add to the list of challenges that the show being advertised has a subject that one might not even consider for musical treatment, that it isn't full of songs from the radio, that it isn't based on a film (though I'd be willing to bet some people will assume it is), and it doesn't have major stars to promote.  And so the advertising and promotion people who work on Bonnie and Clyde (opening December 1st at the Schoenfeld Theatre) have their work cut out for them.

Well, I hope the producers of the show are paying these people well, because the TV commercial they came up with sells the show brilliantly.  Here are all of the reasons why:
  • Can the story of Bonnie and Clyde be musicalized? YES! The opening seconds settle that right off, as uber-talented Laura Osnes seduces with a sultry smile and a catchy ballad, "How 'Bout a Dance?"
  • Is the story interesting and relatable to today? YES!  As the voice-over tells us, Bonnie and Clyde were two young people who lived for adventure even though times were hard.  What does America love more than unlikely young people doing unlikely things.  As the headline overlays show us, these crazy kids robbed banks and killed with abandon.  Wrong?  Yes.  But they got away with it for awhile while times were hard.   If it were happening today, this is a story that would have us glued to CNN.
  • Sex sells.  And let's face it, Osnes and Jeremy Jordan exude both a steamy sexuality (the silky slip/glistening with sweaty, muscled arms in a hot tee shirt) and a natural chemistry that even comes across in a small screen on a laptop.
  • Musicals don't have to have the "Broadway sound."  "How 'Bout a Dance?" with its honky tonk, bluesy feel doesn't sound too hokey.  And while I admit that I LOVE Broadway musicals of all styles, today's audiences are willing to buy the whole "break into song and dance" thing, minus the cheesy jazz hands stereotype.
  • The masculine musical is possible.  Guns a-blazin' AND you get the hot girl?  Add an implied car chase, and this could be the only musical this season that Lady Ticket Buyer won't have to drag Lord Tag Along to unwillingly.
  • The look of the whole thing is slick, interesting, vintage and modern.
  • The final tableau of the bullet-riddled logo next to a kissing Bonnie and Clyde is visually striking and memorable.  Osnes sings, "and you may lose your heart," while the voice-over tells us that their love and life were the stuff of legend, and ends with the clever word-play tagline: "America's Most Wanted Broadway Musical."  (The only change I'd make is right there - I'd cut the word "Broadway" as I think it slows down the phrase.  Broadway is implied, anyway.)
In summary, this is one of the best Broadway show commercials I've seen in ages.  Wouls it make me want to buy tickets?  Hell, yeah!

Grade: A+

Here is a video that goes behind the scenes of the commercial:

For more information check out the show's website:

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