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Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Broadway on TV: Big Fish
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You are the producer of a big, expensive Broadway show. Considering the level of talent both on stage and off, you are sure you have a blockbuster on your hands. Then the show opens to very mixed reviews, and there is almost no buzz being generated. People are talking, but it is mostly trying to guess when your show will close. The producers of Big Fishare in just that position. How do they save this show?
Step one: Grab TV viewers with an ad that highlights the more traditional aspects of a Broadway musical. In this case, pay close attention to dance numbers, cross-cutting steps with the elements of fantasy - a giant, whirling witches, dancing elephant asses - that are a large part of this performance. Make those scenes a rapid fire feast of visual wonders - leggy lines of all-American chorus girls, sexy chorus cowboys, tons of scenery.
Step two: Make those viewers believe it is a critical success - after all, how many of them read theatre reviews? Say them aloud as they flash on the screen.
Step three: Add a clever tag line - something about living life in "full bloom" - as you see a stage erupt in golden daffodil blossoms, as man and woman - obviously the heroes of the story - embrace and look adoringly into each others' eyes. If you know the show or the book or the movie, you might get the joke outright. But what fun for people who buy tickets, see the show and then get it, right?
I have to admit I was surprised that they didn't invoke the ghosts of shows past. You know, something along the lines of "from the Tony-winning director of The Producers" or "starring two-time Tony-winner Norbert Leo Butz." But then I thought about it... the vast majority of theatre-goers are casual theatre-goers. Why waste any of your 31 seconds on a director no one knows by name or an actor that isn't a TV or film star? If you are reading this, you know who Ms. Stroman and Mr. Butz are, and how great they are. But to reach the widest possible pool of ticket buyers, you don't waste time name-dropping. A wise choice.
Despite that, I can't help but feel that the ad is just like the show. Much ado about almost nothing.