The new musical, Harmony, has been a long time in arriving on Broadway. With each stop in its decades-long journey to the Barrymore Theatre, the show art has been evolving. Here's a look at what they landed on, now that the production is set.
2023 - 2024 Broadway Musical Logos:
Based on the true story of the Comedian Harmonists, a group of entertainers, hugely popular in Germany in the 1920s. As they included Jewish group members, their very existence was at odds with the growing power of The Third Reich.
The font of the logo perfectly captures the glitz and glamour of the high life of the 20s - art deco in style and a rich, almost glowing gold in color. The underlines that surround "A New Musical" further emphasize the time period. Small Stars of David serve as a subtle reminder of subject matter.
The deep red color of the background together with the gold tones of the title and images conveys a few different things. The colors imply a certain majesty, a respect, a reverence befitting the story of a renowned group that impacted history, even if no one remembers. Red also brings to mind danger - and there is no shortage of that in their story. With red as the dominant color, their advertising and marquee are certainly eye-catching.
The imagery of the key art does a lot of work here. The juxtaposition of the Comedian Harmonists in joyful silhouette against the larger, focused images implies that while the group is the subject matter, their lives were impacted by generations of others and that their lives should be remembered as largely happy and full of love. It also says quite a bit that the images are arranged like piano keys. Notice, though, they are not perfectly straight, perhaps askew so as to be out of tune (?), or maybe more comedic in nature. Subliminally mixed-messages suggest that there will be more to this than a song and dance extravaganza.
Notice, upon closer inspection, what the selected images could tell passersby or other potential customers. On both, we see smiling, tuxedo-ed young men singing, a couple staring at each other affectionately, hands clasped, and an older gentleman (Chip Zien) grinning broadly. Also on both, though with different images, we see dancing. What does this tell potential audiences? Singing! Dancing! Romance! A musical. The top image includes a passionate woman (Julie Benko) looking very serious and holding up some sort of document. Is she protesting something? Defending something? There is a serious element here. Interesting that this particular segment is not consistently used in the advertising...
This final poster version clearly leans into the traditional musical theater expectations. Really, it is the tagline at the top that sells it for me. The larger, bolder, differently colored "TRUE STORY" is instantly compelling. Then, the build up of the "greatest entertainers the world" matches the song and dance imagery, followed by the last minute twist of "would ever forget" adds a level of mystery, even more compelling.
Finally, I think it is very telling that Barry Manilow's name is just part of the credits, like every other composer would get. Is this to have him be taken seriously as a theater composer, not as a pop musician taking a stab at Broadway? It worked for Cyndi Lauper and Sara Bareilles. Or is it a subtle head's up to Fanilows that they shouldn't come to the show expecting to hear "Mandy" and "Copacabana"? Probably both.
As a musical theater fan, all of this interests me, and it is very striking. Is it enough to sell a show that got mixed reviews with a potentially controversial subject at this particular time in history? Time will tell.