Marketing The Musical – or – Opening Night for People In The Picture

The time: 6:30 pm, April 28, 2011

The place: Studio 54

The event: Opening night of “The People In The Picture”

Donna Murphy is spectacular.  It is as if the whole musical were written just for her, for her talents, for her singing, for her timing.  You really must see her to understand how wonderful she is.  The marketing of the show plays to her star power.

Marquee

On Friday morning the reviews are in and so are the Drama Desk Award Nominations.  “The People In The Picture” picks up 3 of the nominations.  Tony nominations are tomorrow, May 3rd.  It is widely expected that Donna Murphy will be nominated for a Tony.

These will all be helpful in marketing of the show.  It seems that awards, particularly the Tony, are playing a larger role in the success of a show than in the past.  They give permission for people to go ahead and buy a ticket for a new and unknown show.

That is the biggest challenge for an original musical, based on an original story.  A fan base needs to be created.

In the past it was the newspaper reviews that mattered.  Not that they don’t today — but they don’t matter the way they did.  With the rise of social media, the influence is shifting away from critics and to the personal opinions of friends and family who saw the show and posted about it on Facebook.  Who are you going to believe more some guy from the New York Times who panned “Wicked” (which you loved!) or your sister whose post on Facebook says she loved this show, it made her cry and thinks everyone in the family must see it?

Now, on to the reviews.  Or rather, to the review that matters most to those to whom reviews matter — Ben Brantley in the New York Times.  Brantley’s review is full of raves for Donna Murphy.  From the opening of his review to the final lines, he sings her praises because “it does make you marvel anew at her protean gifts.”  However, he is decidedly divided and ambivalent about the show overall.

And that brings us to the story behind the story in the Times!

The book and lyrics of “The People In The Picture” were written by the enormously talented Iris Rainer Dart.  Iris Dart started out as a trail-blazing top-notch female writer of tv comedy shows back in the 1970s — Tina Fey before there even was an SNL.   Most people will know Iris Dart more for her bestselling novel and the smash movie, “Beaches.”

This is the salient fact when deciphering Ben Brantley’s review in The New York Times.   Brantley has a long history of expressing his personal dislike for the movie Beaches.   One has to question the editorial judgement of the New York Times for sending Brantley to review “The People In the Picture.”

About “People in the Picture” Brantley writes:

Such eventful, tear-stained, multigenerational plots are less common to musicals than they are to fat novels displayed in airport bookstores as temptations to women with purses full of Kleenex and long flights ahead. And it is no coincidence that Ms. Dart is best known for just such a novel, “Beaches,” which became a four-hankie hen flick starring  Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. 

In his review of “Wicked” on October 31, 2003, Brantley writes:

That’s one side, anyway, of the lopsided equation that is ”Wicked.” The other side involves the ambivalent, ever-shifting relationship between Elphaba and Glinda, in which the adversarial women learn from each other and which recalls sobfests about female friendships like the movie ”Beaches.” (You keep expecting Glinda to start singing, ”Did you ever know you were my hero, Elphaba?”)

His final judgement of Wicked?  “‘Wicked” does not, alas, speak hopefully for the future of the Broadway musical.”  From a commercial perspective, time has proven Ben Brantley’s judgement to be wrong on that one.

More about the marketing of the musical in future posts.


0 Responses to “Marketing The Musical – or – Opening Night for People In The Picture”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 27 other followers