The Playgoer: Neil Simon or Norman Rockwell?

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Neil Simon or Norman Rockwell?

Sorry to harp on the Brighton Beach fiasco, but at least I'm not the only one.

Variety's David Rooney has an even more cutting critique of the marketing campaign:

The ad campaign clearly wasn't connecting with ticketbuyers.

But the tone, more than the profile of the ads, was problematic. The artwork was built around a pastel-colored, faux-Norman Rockwell rendering of the playwright's alter-ego, Eugene, as an adolescent and a young adult, leaning against a street sign bearing the plays' two titles. One-liners lifted from the text ran above this, all of them resoundingly unfunny out of context.

The ads suggested a sitcom that was dated, trite and artificial. A second wave of ads showed a sepia-toned, posed family photograph of the cast, topped by the tagline: "If you think your family is funny, wait until you meet ours." Oy. Even the post-opening ads emblazoned with enthusiastic critical endorsements, of which there were many, stuck to timid colors and wishy-washy fonts.

The 1983 "Brighton" is generally recalled as a work of light-hearted nostalgia, but not of any great substance. That was precisely the perception David Cromer's textured production was playing against. The production subtly coaxed the laughs out of the melancholy reality of a Depression-era Brooklyn family struggling to get by and stay together.

But the ads featured no strong images and no real indication that the production explored new emotional depths.

Admittedly, it's tough to convey tonal complexity in a marketing campaign, and the best Broadway advertising tends to be built around the simple, straightforward message of bold, iconic images like the whispering "Wicked" witches, the reverse shot of the sleek-suited "Jersey Boys," the mask and blood-red rose of "The Phantom of the Opera" or the stylized leonine head of "The Lion King."

Any suggestions, armchair marketers out there, for alternative artwork approaches?

1 comment:

Monty said...

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand THAT'S the last article on Brighton Beach Memoirs. Good show everyone. Great. Glad it was covered. What's next?