May 18, 2013

Applauding A New Trend: Playbill Extras

It’s another can’t-find-time-to-blog weekend for me but rather than turn the ghost light on yet again, I’m going to give a brief shout out to a new trend I've noticed: the fancy inserts producers are tucking into the Playbills for their shows.

The one for The Testament of Mary, which closed after just 16 performances and 27 previews, was written by its playwright Colm Tóibín and reads like a mini dissertation on depictions of the Virgin Mary over the centuries.  It even includes a list of additional readings for those who might have wanted to dig deeper after seeing Tóibín’s controversial portrayal of the mother of Jesus as a grief-stricken but angry woman who, years after the crucifixion, still questions the divinity of her son. Despite a powerful performance by Fiona Shaw, the production, over-directed by Deborah Warner and featuring a self-consciously arty set by Tom Pye, was off-putting. But this author’s note makes an elegant case for the play itself.

The producers for Lucky Guy slipped two glossy inserts into the Playbill I got when my husband K and I saw this bio drama about the late columnist Mike McAlary and the heyday of tabloid journalism in the '80s and ‘90s. One of those cards has a note from director George C. Wolfe on one side and an excerpt from an essay called “Journalism: A Love Story” by the show’s late playwright Nora Ephron on the other.  The second insert contains an illustrated note from set designer David Rockwell, detailing how he put together the collage of subway graffiti and other images from the period that decorate the curtain that greets theatergoers when they enter the Broadhurst Theatre.

Getting these extras is like the theatrical equivalent of the bonus items on a DVD.  They’re a nice treat and I hope the trend continues to catch on.

No comments: