This season, dudes, I’m not gonna lie, it’s hard out there for a poster roaster-writing blogger. I don’t know if Broadway marketing people are stepping up and away from those strange ‘everything that pleases focus groups in one image’ posters, or if my influence is such that posters are being catered to my personal taste (it’s obviously this), but there are a lot of really solid poster images this season. Like the poster for Once, which I love almost as much as I love the show:
Simple, low-key, and oddly romantic, just like the show. Or this poster, for Peter and the Starcatcher:
I can’t even put into words how much I love this poster, or the fact that Serino Coyne hired a Vermont woodworking artist to make it out of old barn wood (there’s a truly beautiful video about it here). It’s both warm and oddly childlike, and perfectly captures the inventive, homemade feeling of the show and of Alex Timbers’ style in general (if you want a reminder about a poster that most definitely did NOT capture this, go back in time to my strong feelings about the BBAJ poster art)
There are plenty of others I like too – the bold simplicity of Jesus Christ Superstar, the retro look of Evita. All good.
But then, there’s this:
Oh, Ghost the Musical.That is just so… weird. Let’s break it down a bit, shall we?
So, first of all, for those of you who don’t know, Ghost the Musical is a British import, and a musical based on the classic movie that made a generation of people think that ceramics were sexy instead of populated by people who don’t believe in deodorant or trimming split ends. And from this poster, it looks like the show has definitely made some changes from the movie.
For example, the movie was a heartbreaking romance between a woman and a man who is breaking the rules of life and death to protect her. According to the poster, the show is a heartbreaking romance between a woman and a frozen dead Smurf. Which is an interesting choice; I mean, generally, audiences are pretty smart. If a character dies and then continues to be present, constantly talking about how he is, in fact, dead, and must avenge said death, or how it’s frustrating that his loved ones can no longer see him, him being dead and all, usually the audiences will pick up on the idea that said person is in fact the titular ghost. If your show is based on a famous movie that most people know, and thus they know that your main character, the studly ghost in question, is no longer a healthy living person, you’d think that you’d also be in the clear. But I guess sometimes you just need to drive that point home by making him look like a cerulean Studsicle.
So, we’ve got the healthy normal-colored lady, and Icy Smurf. And they are locked together in a pose that proves their longing to touch, to kiss, if only they were on the same astral plane. Right? Well, not really. They both look a little pained, like two coworders who don’t really like each other having to be really close to each other on a really packed elevator. And because of their positioning, it looks a little like Icy Smurf is bitchily judging her roots, while she’s checking to see if there’s frost on the undead bits, if you know what I’m saying (he looks naked, after all. Did clothes not make it to the afterlife?).
But let’s look at the other stuff too. I very much like the fading graphics on the edges of the title – nicely ghostly, without being too on the nose. But did they have to pepper the image with those confetti light circles? It looks like the afterlife is lit entirely by disco balls. And while that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing (fun afterlife!), the fact that ‘believe’ is the tagline, and writ large over the whole thing, just makes me wonder if this moment isn’t going to be interrupted by Cher popping out of that white light in the back to sing her 1998 disco hit (the first line of which, by the by, is “do you believe in life after love?” which is so perfect for this show that I almost had to check to make sure that it wasn’t, in fact, a Cher jukebox musical).
I’m also not entirely sure why the tagline is ‘believe’. I mean, if I recall correctly from the movie, there’s not really a plot point about how people have to believe in ghosts. I don’t remember Patrick Swayze ever being like “oh, if only they would believe in ghosts!” It’s pretty established that whether anyone believes or not, that character is a ghost. The problem, if anything, is more one of communication. I guess ‘Listen for signs from your undead boyfriend’ really isn’t as catchy, and I suppose you could argue that ‘believe’ could be believing in love, or love surviving death, or the fierceness of Cher’s auto-tuning. So I guess I’ll give them that one. Although I can’t help but think that it’s also answering the question of so many when they gaze upon the poster – “wait, they made Ghost into a musical?!”
Yes, world, they did. Believe. And while we still have to wait a bit to actually see it, until then we have our imaginations, to dream of things like whether the pottery scene is as sexy on stage as it is on screen, or how they deal with the moment when the ghost takes over the medium’s body to touch his girlfriend one last time, or how Sam escapes again from wicked Gargamel.