This combination of photos shows rejected theatrical poster art from various productions, designed by Frank Verlizzo and available for purchase. All proceeds go to the aid organization Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. (Frank Verlizzo via AP)

Rejected Broadway posters on sale to help theatre community

Rejected Broadway posters on sale to help theatre community

NEW YORK — Letting the world see your failures is usually something most people try to avoid. Not for theatrical poster designer Frank Verlizzo — he hopes you’ll put his on your wall.

Verlizzo is selling prints of his rejected posters for such shows as Cabaret, Equus and Matilda ith all proceeds going to the aid organization Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

“It’s exciting for me because it’s work that I particularly loved that I didn’t think anyone was ever going to see,” says the artist. “So it’s kind of wonderful that they’re now out in the world, for better or for worse.”

The 16 posters included in the series — each goes for $399 with a frame — were either rejected, never pitched or part of a group of submissions that Verlizzo made that allowed only one winner.

One highlight is an alternative poster for The Lion King. Disney, of course, went for Verlizzo’s stark animal mane stamp that has become iconic. But now people can mount an unpublished design of his which uses paw prints from King Mufasa and newborn Simba to illustrate both the past and the future.

“There are a million reasons why a poster gets rejected for a show,” he explains. “It’s a room full of people. It’s like one big beauty contest. Everybody has their favourites.”

The offerings include an intriguing one for Matilda that uses letters of the alphabet to make up a graphic portrait of the imaginative heroine. Verlizzo created it for the Broadway run of the musical but producers decided to keep the previous West End campaign.

Verlizzo, who designs under the moniker “Fraver” — a combination of his two names — says opening his vault and helping fellow artists during the pandemic was a “no-brainer.”

“The devastation in the theatre industry was unbelievable. So many of my friends were unemployed instantly,” he says. “I hope it raises a lot of money.”

The project is in partnership with Gelato, the global production platform that enables artists to sell their designs to customers anywhere in the world using a network of local producers, which means carbon emissions are minimized.

Julie Ryland, who led the project for Gelato, said each poster takes you behind the creative process.

“Each one has a story. And and I think we crave stories during this time. We crave creativity,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that wall art has become so popular. Customers are just craving art and things to put up on their walls and bring into their homes now that we can’t access it in other ways.”

Posters play a key role in a show’s life. Until word of mouth takes over, ad campaigns have to entice patrons to be willing to pay high ticket prices for something they may know little about.

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