On Broadway: From Rent to Revolution (Rizzolli; 8x12 Hardcover; Color and B&W designs, photos, and posters; Credits; 224 pages; SRP $45), written by Drew Hodges with a Foreword by designer/author Chip Kidd, Introduction by author David Sedaris, and a Cast section, is a history of the past 20 years of razzle-dazzle window-card design from the SpotCo ad agency that brought shows visually alive and helped create the buzz that helped fill theater seats.

The book “pulls back the curtain to reveal the creative process involved in bringing a Broadway show to the stage and into the public consciousness through the words of Broadway’s most famous personalities” and the art created for over two decades — starting with Rent. The designs for Jonathan Lawson’s landmark musical were done by this new start-up, under the direction of founder Drew Hodges from a sixth-floor apartment on Sixth Avenue.

Now, as one of theater’s leading ad agencies, Hodges, photographers, and designers have created hundreds of designs for Broadway and beyond. This collection showcases never-before-published preliminary concept art, the finished product, and behind-the-scenes photos. There’s insider dish from stars such as Harvey Fierstein, Joel Grey, Cherry Jones, John Leguizamo, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dolly Parton, Bernadette Peters, Mark Ruffalo, Patrick Stewart, and Sting, as well as playwright Neil LaBute and Motown founder/producer Berry Gordy.

Dozens of anecdotes give insight into how more than 85 of Broadway’s most intriguing projects unfolded, along with the twists and turns beloved and controversial shows took on their path to mostly success. These include the Bernadette Peters Annie Get Your Gun, Avenue Q; Chicago; The Drowsy Chaperone; Elaine Stritch: At Liberty, Freak, the Peters Gypsy revival; In the Heights; La Cage aux Folles; One Man, Two Guvnors; Pippin; Rent; Shrek; and Young Frankenstein.

Recent shows are Kinky Boots, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Fun Home, Something Rotten, and Hamilton; in addition to entries on the Tonys.

Read of working with Jonathan Larson’s family and the producers on the Rent campaign; Nicole Kidman’s decision to bare all for the photo shoot for The Blue Room; collaborating with Kander and Ebb on their revival of Chicago; and collaborating with Lin-Manuel Miranda and producers on how to sell the hip-hop Hamilton.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS receives a portion of book sale proceeds.


Key Subjects: 
SpotCo,, advertising, Rent, David Hodges
Ellis Nassour
May 2016