Broadway’s brand man: The posters of Fraver
It would be difficult for Frank Verlizzo to not feel like a large portion of Times Square belonged to him. The massive, mustard-yellow artwork for The Lion King that stretches across the windows of the Minskoff Theatre and tops hundreds of taxicabs was created by Verlizzo, a Broadway poster designer who is known professionally as “Fraver” (a combination of his first and last name). For over 30 years, Verlizzo’s theatrical artwork has scoured New York and the globe, having designed the artwork for over 300 Broadway and off-Broadway productions. A retrospective of his work is currently on display at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center through April 30. The New York native sat down with Stage Rush to tell the stories behind his most-recognized work, and discuss ads versus art.
There isn’t much competition for you in the field of Broadway poster designing. How does that make you feel?
My biggest strength is I love it. I love it just as much today as I did 30 years ago. It’s the combination of posters, which I adore, and the theater, which I love. It’s a perfect combination. There is much more branding with theater posters than those for movies. When you mention Sweeney Todd to someone, it’s almost 30 years later and people remember it, because the art is still around. The show is pretty much gone, but the poster was the first thing they saw and the poster is the thing that stays behind. Read more
Stage Rush TV: Episode 36
- Part 2 of Ensemble Watch with The Lion King’s Ray Mercer and Jean Michelle Grier. Ray talks about his giraffe, Gus, and how he mounts the 14-foot puppet.
- At This Performance concert celebrates 500 understudies
- Riding Stew’s Brooklyn Omnibus at BAM
- Broadway grosses
Do you think you have what it takes to ride Gus, Rushers? Have you been to one of the At This Performance concerts? Have you taken a ride on Stew’s Brooklyn Omnibus yet? Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below, and follow Stage Rush on Facebook and Twitter for more updates, news, and sightings!
Ensemble Watch: ‘The Lion King,’ Part 2
In Part 2 of Ensemble Watch with The Lion King’s Ray Mercer and Jean Michelle Grier, Mercer talks about his giraffe, Gus, and how he manages on those stilts (14 feet high!). Grier reveals her favorite moment of performing in the show, and why she feels the ensemble is always in the spotlight.
(If you missed Part 1, watch it here)
Were you surprised that Ray doesn’t have to rehearse stilt walking, Rushers? Do you think the ensemble of The Lion King might be the most visible and featured on Broadway? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow Stage Rush on Facebook and Twitter for on-the-go updates!
Concert recap: At This Performance
Five hundred spotlights. That’s how many center-stage moments the At This Performance concert series has given to Broadway understudies since its inception seven years ago. During the Monday night concert, Erick Buckley—who understudies Uncle Fester in The Addams Family, was crowned number 500. At the time of the concert, he had yet to ever go on for the role.
That fact is what makes the At This Performance concerts so special—it honors actors who rarely get the glory. Musicals Tonight! artistic director Mel Miller introduced the night’s performers as “the backbone of American musical theater,” noting that they are the future leads of Broadway. The actors represented such shows as Fela!, The Lion King, A Little Night Music, and Memphis.
Typically, the performers perform solo, but since Colin Cunliffe and Jessica Lea Patty were both in attendance from The Addams Family, they sang the duet their characters share, called “Crazier Than You.” Rather than give the song a straight performance, the two acted out the song, using props.
Video: Colin Cunliffe and Jessica Lea Patty sing “Crazier Than You” from The Addams Family
Stage Rush TV: Episode 35
- Going to the opening night of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
- Interviewing Lion King ensemble members Ray Mercer and Jean Michelle Grier
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Is Bloody Bloody the coolest show to hit Broadway this season, or do you have your eye on another show? What Broadway openings have you been to? Tell me your stories and leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below! Don’t forget to follow Stage Rush on Facebook and Twitter for updates, news, and sightings when you’re on the go!
Ensemble Watch: ‘The Lion King,’ Part 1
For 13 years, the on-stage spectacle of The Lion King has been flooring audience members, even bringing tears to the eyes of adults, and selling out performances (even to this day). From an ensemble that is as important as the show’s leads (if not more), Jean Michelle Grier and Ray Mercer discuss life in this uber-technical show in the latest Ensemble Watch. Both ensemble actors with featured roles (Grier plays Simba’s mother Sarabi; Mercer plays a giraffe), they have both been with the show for over five years. Here they discuss the euphoria of being cast in the mega hit, backstage life at the Minskoff, and fitness.
When was the last time you saw The Lion King, Rushers? Were you moved by its visuals? Do you find it interesting that this ensemble is arguably the prime aspect of this show? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and be sure to look for Part 2 next week.
For on-the-go updates, news, and sightings, follow Stage Rush on Facebook and Twitter.
Stage Rush TV: Episode 4
- The Broadway portion of Las Vegas
- The Scottsboro Boys has a rush policy, but no rush tickets
- Evan Rachel Wood backs out of Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark
- Steven Sater: Spring Awakening film could begin production as soon as fall
- Broadway grosses