by Justin Brady
As both a theater and film lover, I was aware of the cult hit Hedwig and the Angry Itch, but I never got around to watching the movie. As I began to see promotions for Footlite Musical's current staging of the rock musical, my inner graphic designer nerd surfaced as I noticed the image search was full of striking renditions of Hedwig posters. While the musical's original artwork started simply with typography that evoked a rock band, the 2001 movie poster put the rock band's transgender front woman front and center. The resulting poster has become iconographic with theaters using it as their inspiration, not to mention Etsy sellers.
Hedwig is a departure from what Footlite Musicals' typical audience is used to, so producer Zach Rosing wisely designed the poster to reach the cult following the movie already enjoys. The strategy has paid off with sellouts of every performance thus far and an added late-night performance on Jan. 25. "We said from the beginning that if the right people found out we were doing this show (and then liked it), it would sell like crazy," said Rosing. "We've had luck in the past doing posters inspired by recognizable originals, so we decided to go that route in terms of the photo we used." To differentiate the design, Rosing choose red and blue colors that tied into the flag theme used in Footlite's set and costume design.
On the heels of Footlite's production, Hedwig will debut on Broadway, starring Neil Patrick Harris. The Broadway marketing is moving away from the iconic movie poster and clearly focusing on Harris' return to its stages. Images include a tight close-up that alludes to lots of makeup but not full-on drag.
What do you think of the poster design? Can a cool poster influence your decision to see a show you might have otherwise skipped? What other plays or musicals have memorable designs?