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Monday, July 2, 2012

First Look at Chaplin: The Musical

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Chaplin: The Musical will be the second new musical of the 2012-2013 season, with previews beginning August 21, and an Opening Night scheduled for September10.  As such, the media machine has begun, with these seven "silent" shorts.

As the time continues to separate modern day with the time in which Charlie Chaplin was at his popular peak, it is probably a smart move to "remind" modern audiences of just what made him so famous.  Despite the fact that his image as The Little Tramp remains an American icon, his work isn't nearly as ingrained in modern pop culture as, say. Lucy, Marilyn, Elvis or James Dean.  Let's face it, silent films just aren't on many re-run lists of the cable networks.  That's not to say he is invisible - variations on The Little Tramp show up in advertising and Hollywood themed restaurants, casinos and amusement parks.  Of course, there was much more to Charlie Chaplin than the one character he is most famous for.  Let's hope the musical goes beyond this rather limited scope.

But it certainly is a great place to start.  And to that end, I guess these shorts are decent.  They are humorous on their own - who doesn't love a fish out of water bit?  I hope, though, that these are just the start of a bigger campaign.  Why? Because to fully appreciate what they are, you need to have more than a passing knowledge of Chaplin, the character and the film genre.  Are they compelling enough to A) make you want to see it? and/or B) make you want to find out more about Charlie Chaplin?  As they stand, probably not.  But I looked it all up (just for you, readers) because that's the kind of geek I am.  And here's what I found out:

Rob McClure as Charlie Chaplin as The Little Tramp

The Little Tramp situations in the films in which he was featured can be divided into three general categories: The Tramp vs "Modern Technology," "The Tramp vs other people and himself," and "The Tramp vs his environment."  Lo and behold!  6 of these shorts - 2 each - fit the three categories, with the 7th sort of bridging the gap between then and now.


Chaplin and the Pedi-Cab - Modern Technology




Charlie vs. Charlie - The people and himself





Chaplin: Hat Swap - The people and himself





Chaplin: Hot Dog! - The environment





Chaplin: Revolving Door - Modern Technology





Chaplin: Pigeon - The environment





Chaplin: Tramps - The Generation Gap





I hope these are reaching a wider audience.  Are they being shown on NY TV channels?  Only three are on the show's website.  And i found the rest on YouTube.  I found them because I was looking.  If this is the way the whole campaign will be done, a show with little buzz like this one will have a tough row to hoe.

The sad thing is, I did all this work, and I am a sure thing.  I'm going to see it because I see all the new musicals and because I am a big fan of Rob McClure, who will star as Chaplin.  Hardly a household name, there's another strike against the ads for the show already.  I have no doubt he'll be good - he could be this season's Steve Kazee.  But the show will probably need Once-like reviews, buzz and awards to be a big hit.  As far as advertising goes, so far so-so.  Let's hope they step it way up.


What do you think?

Jeff
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