Monday, March 4, 2024

2023 - 2024 Broadway Musical Logos: Days of Wine and Roses and Merrily We Roll Along

 Logo lovers, today we offer you two-fer, with a closer look at the logos for the new musical Days of Wine and Roses and the revival of Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along. Both shows have some common elements and themes, but I chose to assess them together because their logos also share some commonalities. One logo, I think, is more successful than the other, though neither are really my cup of tea.

The Days of Wine and Roses

Here is a new musical, critically acclaimed though it may be, has proven to be a tough sell. It makes sense that the most prominent feature of the key art is the photo of stars Kelli O'Hara and Brian d'Arcy James. They are probably the biggest selling-point to a fair amount of the general public, and an even bigger portion of the regular theatergoer consumer group. 

At first glance, they seem to be in a somewhat romantic pose, nuzzled together, holding hands. But a closer look at the picture reveals that they may be holding each other, but neither is looking at the other, and they do not look particularly happy. Importantly, each of them is holding a rock glass with amber colored liquor over ice.

The title is in a nondescript bold font, the words "days" and "and" slightly askew. A closer look shows that the title is actually slightly doubled. I'm guessing that these details are to suggest inebriation. With a light blue/dark blue coloring overall, this show art doesn't really stand out, and it is, well, boring. It feels like minimum effort was given to this branch of the show's advertising.

As wonderful as the show is, this lackluster effort does nothing to sell it.

Grade: F

Merrily We Roll Along

Here is a logo for a show that was also not a sure thing when it was announced - the original production is a notorious flop, and subsequent revivals were (mostly) only slightly more successful than the first version. Of course, this has proven to be the hottest ticket on Broadway since Hamilton. Like Roses, this logo emphasizes its stars, all three a draw for a variety of reasons. All are famous for different reasons, and all are accomplished theater veterans: Jonathan Groff, known for his debut in Spring Awakening, and his Tony-nominated turn in Hamilton, also has a following from his television work, including the acclaimed HBO series, Looking; Lindsay Mendez, long a stage favorite, returns after winning the Tony for her work in Carousel; and Daniel Radcliffe is an international name, from Harry Potter, but has also earned his stage cred with such work as Equus and How to Succeed... among other roles.


What makes their inclusion so notable with the show art is how it is presented... as old-time (as opposed to today's color digital version) photo booth picture strips. By and large, they look happy and optimistic, though knowing the show, it is interesting to note just how they are arranged. (No spoilers for the one or two of you who don't know the show!) The poster, Playbill and most versions of the logo also present the logo as being on a notepad with a penciled in line from the show, "It started out like a song," a perfect encapsulation of the show's driving story line. For Sondheim fans, it is also a sweet nod to his musical writing process, as he famously wrote almost all drafts and notes on legal pads in pencil.

Finally, the red label strips that type out the title also speak to the process - folders labeled with those decidedly old style peel and stick bits of plastic, manually created on a plastic label gun. (I am really showing my age here, aren't I?!) The res really sticks out, and is a nice respite from this century's Word Art world of advertising.

Of the two logos using similar imagery, this one is much more successful.

Grade: B+ 

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