Their contributions generally go unheralded, but a clever theater poster can do much more than impart information: It can set tone; it can bemuse and intrigue; it can make a viewer eager to see a play. An evocative theater poster is almost like the first review. No one in town evokes a play's style more cleverly and insightfully than does Marjorie Williamson. To see a play through Williamson's penetrating eyes can be a delightful revelation. She has a gift for conveying a play's essence even before the production has gone into rehearsal. Our all-time favorite Williamson design might have been the one she did for This Wonderful Life in 2010, featuring the cast of Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life inside a snow globe. That said, her poster for this past summer's Act, Inc. dramatization of Graham Greene's novel Travels with My Aunt rivaled that tour de force, depicting a monocled Brit being carried along like a handbag by a striding female figure, transforming an upcoming event into a two-dimensional world of expectation and promise.
As fans of the band know, the mop-topped frontman for Bug Chaser, Pat Grosch, is also its primary poster artist, which is why he doesn't have a design website. It also explains why the posters — like a visual sibling of the music — hum with a kind of carefully controlled artistic chaos. In an age of poster design when twee adorableness and putting-a-bird-on-it seem to be the reigning aesthetic, it's refreshing to look at a Pat Grosch work and feel a sense of ol' fashioned rock & roll rage. One poster in particular — for a show with Ransom Note, Bug Chaser and Magic City at Off Broadway — was especially moving, a '50s-era black-and-white Betty reclining with visions of a rainbow mushroom cloud exploding over her head. It explains the music better than words and drives home the message: White space is for nerds.