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Well, my "little vacation" ended up lasting two and a half years... funny how life steers your life in directions you weren't planning on. I'll start off with occasional posts, but I fully plan to resume this blog to full speed by the new year.

I hope you'll come back for frequent visits, to see new reviews, to share opinions, to take a survey (or two), and to celebrate the shows and show people that have made the TheatreScene!


Saturday, May 11, 2013

The 2013 Tony Awards: Best Musical Nominees on TV (Part II)


Yesterday, I talked about the TV ads for two of the four Best Musical Tony Award nominees (HERE).  Today, I'll take a fast look at the other two: A Christmas Story: The Musical  and Matilda.

A Christmas Story: The Musical

The people behind this show are the smartest of the season.  Don't tell me all of those banner ads for the show "looking for kids for the upcoming tour" weren't also there just in time for Tony nominations to be made by sheer coincidence!  Haven't seen one since the show nabbed a coveted nod in the Best Musical category...

  • This ad plays to all of the familiarity of the beloved film.  It trades on the audience going in knowing what they are getting before they get there.  People will part with money faster for a "sure thing."
  • Using critical quotes adds legitimacy to fans on the fence and regular theatre-goers who usually snub shows made from films.
  • You gotta love the film-like narrator, the vintage wrapping paper on the gifts, and the Ralphie (from the film) lookalike.  And what else can you do but smile at that crazy leg lamp?
  • Slick!  And it doesn't contain a single second of the show - no pesky "original cast" to have to fess up about for future productions.  The ultimate in "Broadway Green" - reusable with no changes needed!

I admire the audacity of the whole thing.  And as one unfamiliar with the film before seeing the show, I still wanted to see it.  What more can you ask for from a TV ad?


Instead of ignoring that it is a British import, this ad celebrates it while seamlessly celebrating the sheer "Broadway-ness" of it all.  Love the British voice over!

  • The floating letters emphasizing certain words in critical quotes does triple duty: you get plum critical huzzahs, key words ("extraordinary" and "believe the hype" are but 2 examples) emphasize why you NEED to see this, and it recalls the set and "discovery" of Matilda's brilliance.
  • The narration giving way to the "Revolting Children" number is good: it gives audiences a sample of the score, and it tells us that the show is child-centric.
  • Notice you don't see much of Matilda herself... emphasis is on the kids and their adversary, the evil Miss Trunchbull, seen in eerie light, staring evilly in a smoky room, versus the good girl of Miss Honey, sweet in her flower print dress and pink sweater, giving hugs.
  • Notice, too, the emphasis of the mysterious - cross-cutting between all those odd, over-the-top characters: how could all of these oddballs fit into one show? - and again, lots of eerie colors - yellows and greens - and tons of soupy fog.
  • And then there is the subliminal nod to Spring Awakening: doesn't a lot of that dance sequence look a lot like those "Totally Fucked" moves, anchored by a kid lead singing a la "The Bitch of Living"?  Is this the Spring Awakening for the grade school set?  Or does this show that even though the show is teeming with little tykes, that it will appeal to the all-important 18-49 demographic?  What is more exciting than watching adult-sized children swinging on giant swings with carefree abandon?

Exciting, colorful, thoughtful, mysterious and engrossing - the commercial and the show.  This much effort in a 80 second ad shows the same level of care taken with the whole show,  No wonder it should and will be the 2013 Best Musical.


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