On of my readers gave me tickets to see Devil Boys from Beyond at New World Stages before it closes, which is untimely ending its run on Sunday. I enjoyed this production, which began as a Fringe show, and exists still as a very intimate production. I don’t exactly know why this show is ending its run early, except that like many shows, it couldn’t find an audience. And who is at fault, the marketing/advertising teams? It’s funny that if a show fails, we often blame the marketing and ads people, but if a show succeeds, it’s because the show sells itself. This is hardly the case. It’s clear that when a good show, in a niche market, can’t get the word out to its target audience, that someone didn’t do their job right.
Here’s what Devil Boys From Beyond should have done:
1) Different show art. The collage imagery on the logo is not eye catching. For a show that features Drag Queens and shirtless muscled men, the artwork hides a lot of the sexual content. There is more potential here for sex appeal in all advertising. I’m sure there are people out there who would see any type of show in the camp/drag genre. Similarly, there are women, bachelorette parties, (and plenty of men too) who would pay to see the shirtless body-building aliens. Look at the success of the Naked Boys Singing franchise. The title of this show is just as catchy, but the artwork and advertising are too tame. In fact, I was surprised when I saw this show, at what genre it really was. Perhaps the producers and promoters were trying to hide the fact that this show could be considered “gay” theatre, in efforts to appeal to a wider audience. But I think they may have lost their core market by being to vague.
2) Reach out to Sci-fi markets. New York Comic Con was in late October. This would have been a perfect place to promote the show. Perhaps they did show some sort of presence. But I would have arranged a performance, a cast table (in costume) and everything else. Can devil boys afford to advertise on television? Perhaps on Sci-fi channel it’s less expensive than to advertise on say, NBC. There is also specialized radio too.
3) Stunts. There are plenty of publicity stunts that could have been staged to promote this show. Perhaps the shirtless ‘Devil Boys’ could have staged an invasion on Wall Street, or Grand Central Station. There are viral video potentials that would easily be picked up by theatre and sci-fi, and college humor websites. Where were the Aliens handing out flyers in times square? Just about everyone has costumed flyer people nowadays, maybe I just missed them? Think of all the video blog possibilities in Campy 1950’s style, documenting the abduction. This isn’t even that expensive to do anymore, everyone has a camera that records digital video, and a computer with access to youtube.
4) Get the word out. The NY Times reviewed Devil Boys at Fringe, and it was very positive. The first rule of promoting theatre is to flash your NY Times review in everyone’s face. This show had a series of good reviews. But where were the quote advertisements?
5) Off-Broadway commercial runs are hard in this economic climate. Especially for non-musicals. So perhaps I would have waited and tried to find a regional or NY theatre to produce the show as part of their season. There is room for expansion, less financial risk, free promotion, and larger audiences.
6) Stunt cast someone. Anyone! Find an old B-movie actor who hasn’t done anything in a long time. Put them in one of the adult drag roles, or put them as the chief reporter. Anyone from a horror movie, sci-fi show, or just a small cult following who like subculture theatre, they could plot them in. Even if people don’t recognize the name, people often recognize that other people might know who they are, and have some importance they don’t know about. Stunt casting is a powerful, and sometimes necessary part of commercial theatre. I would have gotten at least one “name” to promote.