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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Broadway on TV: The Evita Edition

PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO VOTE IN THIS MONTH'S POLL AND IN 
ROUND 4 OF HOT AND HOTTER (LOOK TO YOUR LEFT AND SCROLL)!

With the revival of Evita more imminent as each day goes by, I thought I'd take a look at the commercials from the original production.  It is interesting to me to look at these knowing how the show ultimately made stars out of its two leads, Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin, and how the show was just becoming the international sensation we now know it to be.  Here is a 1 minute ad, made after the 1980 Tony Awards.




Given that it was, at that point, a bona fide Broadway and West End hit, it makes sense that a longer ad was a viable choice.  And, in my opinion, they used their 60 seconds wisely.  In just a minute, they manage to tell the basic story, setting up a mysterious power conflict, and revealing the power struggle between the three main characters.

It also attempts to appeal to the broadest possible audience.  Drama lovers and those interested in international politics are appealed to through the voice over narrative..."she seduced a nation...".  Lovers of big Broadway musicals are appealed to through the fast cuts of groups scenes and the trademark balcony scene, followed by a snippet of "Buenos Aires" with power vocals and fast paced dancing.

And using "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" throughout likely hooked everyone else, at least long enough to pay attention to the ad.  Back in the late 70's - early 80's that song was EVERYWHERE, recorded by EVERYONE (even Olivia Newton-John and The Carpenters!).

But the smartest thing they did was highlight the amazing vocal power of Patti LuPone - master of the power ballad as evidenced by the bit of "Don't Cry For Me," the power belting (and dancer on top of that) from "Buenos Aires," and the prophetic closeup of Patti/Evita grinning wickedly at the camera as she sings and exudes "star quality."

As I said, knowing what we know now about Evita, LuPone and Patinkin, the ad seems obvious.  Instead, it should be regarded highly for the ground-breaking ad that it is.  As we know now, Evita not only introduced us to two Broadway legends, it also began the era of the British mega-musical and subsequent media machine.

What do you think olf this ad?  Leave your comments below or email me ay jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com.

Jeff
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