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Skating on Thin Ice

A while ago, I wrote about the earworm effect of radio ads for Broadways shows, which imprint themselves on my brain when I’m most vulnerable (i.e., just waking up). I don’t know how things are in your neck of the woods, but local New York TV/radio is filled with commercials for Broadway shows, and has been my entire life. And Broadway-related commercials, such as this immortal ad for a hotel “in the center of it all” that was on TV for pretty much my entire childhood, and beyond.

This commercial is deeply imprinted on my psyche, perhaps even my soul. It sells a very old school, elegant idea that Broadway still has of itself–and, ironically, was shot when the Theater District was at the absolute nadir of its mid-1980s scuzziness. Whatever limited sense of irony and postmodernism Broadway may have now (enough to endure shows like Spamalot and The Book of Mormon, anyway), it had none of back then. Broadway was still very much wrapped up in glamour! and glitz! and you’re going out there a nobody but you’re coming back a star!

I am not at all a Broadway Person, so how do I know this? Because ads for Broadway shows ran on local TV constantly when I was a kid, and I can remember pretty much all of them. Like this ad for Cats which ran for roughly 900 years (much like the show itself). I recently had an argument with my wife when she insisted that the cats meowed along to the tune you hear in that commercial. (No, they didn’t, although the idea of them doing so is hilarious.) Or this nearly wordless ad for a revival of 42nd Street. Or this Dreamgirls ad that I distinctly remember, even though I’m sure I was too young to entirely understand what I was seeing.

Recently, another old Broadway ad flitted to the front of my brain. I remember being captivated by this commercial’s utterly earnest and weird conception of Great White Way glitz. Sadly, there is no representative example of this ad on YouTube, which is why at first I thought I might have imagined it. But I polled friends and family alike, and it was indeed a thing. My wife told me her sister had a poster of this show on her wall. A friend of mine told me she had to sing songs from it for school chorus. It was not only a thing, but evidently a quite popular thing.

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