Hello there. It’s been a while, I’m sorry – it was a busy week, which actually turned out to be a good thing. But it was also an eventful week in the world of the showbiz (gearing up towards fall, I suppose, after a sleepy Summer season), with casts being announced, theaters being secured, and art being revealed.
It is this last that I want to talk about right now. For one of the posters unveiled this week was for the Broadway transfer of ‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’, the hipster/emo musical that spent many happy days at the public. To be totally honest, my feelings on the show itself are totally mixed, but my feelings on the new artwork are not. Without further ado (to be totally honest again, I’m a little hungover, so my ability to further any ado is rather stifled, lucky for you all), here it is:
To be blunt, I don’t get it. They’ve clearly chosen to go for a very 80s look, with the colorblocking and the vaguely punk-rock font. And to be specific, they’ve very clearly decided to reference that king of 80s Americana, Springsteen, and his ‘Born in the USA’ cover, seen here:
You’ve got the butt in the jeans, the hip-cocked swaggery stance, even the thing tucked in the pocket (BBAJ upped the ante by making it an American flag).
On some level, I get it. BBAJ is about America developing its identity (sort of), and ‘Born in the USA’ is a great reference point. In addition, you’ve got the badass pistol, and a nice man butt to bring in the ladies and men who like nice man butt. And the 80s are very hip right now, and this poster screams someone in a room saying ‘the 80s are very hip right now!!’
But mostly, I don’t get it at all. The show itself isn’t 80s – when I saw it (which was at the public in the first Public incarnation – I totally grant that they may have made big changes to it since then), it was very clearly rooted in an early 2000s hipster mode, riffing on history in tight pants and ironic floral dresses. Nor does it have anything at all to do with Springsteen, far from it – the music isn’t anything like the blue-collar power ballads that are Springsteen’s oeuvre, but rather smaller-scale emo rants and ironic rock.
In fact, the show that I saw was much better reflected by this poster, which was made for the show’s 2008 LA Center Theater Group incarnation:
That’s a much better mix – the grab bag of a historical image and antiqued background combined with the pixelated horse and cartoony arrows, thrown in with the unmistakeably rock star logo. It captures perfectly the ‘let’s throw a rockin’ party in this crazy old junk shop, and aren’t these old plaid pants that my grandfather used to wear awesome?’, entirely hipster tone of the show.
Even this image, which the public used for their incarnation, works better, I think.
The Public posters all have their own, recognizably Public, aesthetic, so this is very clearly a part of it. But still, you get the idea of what you’re going to see – a little bit in-your-face, a little bit country, a little bit Rock and Roll (they also wisely decided to spotlight the jewel in the crown of the show – it’s star, Ben Walker. I’ve squealed embarrassingly over him before, so you can go back to the blog archives if you’d like, but since one of the phrases that most frequently bring people to my blog is ‘Ben Walker Shirtless’ (which I actually never wrote), I will take this opportunity to say – BENJAMIN WALKER SHIRTLESS NAKED. There, welcome, new blog readers!)
But looking at this new poster, I would expect to see a show with a tone more like Rock of Ages – something definably 80s, something colorful very clearly rock and roll, and probably something with glistening muscle-bound chorus boys (I’m sorry, you put a male butt as your image!) instead of the emo hipster vintage/modern grab bag that you’ll get. I’m confused.
Then again, maybe if they painted the image on the torso of BEN WALKER SHIRTLESS and made that the image, I would buy a ticket.