Designing a show’s image must be hard. You have to capture the essence of the show, the style of the production, appeal to the targeted audience, and make it something that won’t look hopelessly dated if your show runs many years into the future. The best, in my opinion, are the simplest – despite my complex feelings about ‘CATS’, you have to admit those eyes with the dancer silhouettes were a pretty awesome choice, as they work almost as well today (And can you imagine the alternatives? Oy.) Rent’s graffiti-like poster signalled immediately that this was a show that was young, new, and above all else, cool. Wicked’s graphic (not THAT kind of graphic – calm yourselves, Elphaba/Glinda slash writers) image of the two witches was easily draw-able into school notebooks by wannabe green witches the world over, and the changes that the Brits made to it (somehow making the witches more shiny and real looking, and in so doing making the striking graphic far less interesting) is one of my favorite examples of ‘wow, they really are a different culture, aren’t they?).
There have been many new show posters released lately, as befits a burgeoning full season. And while some have been cool and interesting, most have been disappointing. So imagine my delight when I opened the big fall preview section to have my eyeballs fall on this:
Now THAT’s a show poster, my friends. First of all, how exciting is that image? All that stuff crashing against your eyes right away, so much that you can’t quite process it at first glance. But when you do, you see all the different stuff from both the era in which Ragtime is set, and ours. And then you see that it all is coming out of that one figure at the piano, his arms thrown up like Evita, like he has created this cacophony of stuff out of his piano. Or, alternately, that he is throwing his hands up in awe at the Statue of Liberty, which makes the figure call to mind both Coalhouse, the musician, and Tateh, the immigrant, in the show.
Basically, this poster is awesome. It is striking and visually interesting, distinctly contemporary while still calling to mind the era in which it is set (which is also true for the production, I’ve heard), and is incredibly exciting. I know Ragtime fairly well, but this poster makes me want to see it again, immediately. Well done, Spotco.
Oh, also, the New York Times has a fantastic interactive feature about various poster images they considered; it’s fascinating. Take a peek here: