Sourcing a Significant Personal Object

Inquiry Question: What is the story of a cutout newspaper advertisement for Wicked?

When asked to provide a significant object, I decided to select a cutout newspaper ad advertising a Vancouver production Stephen Schwartz’s musical Wicked. When I was younger, I cut this page out of a local newspaper prior to attending the production. Years later, I still remember the experience of watching the production. This is a primary source since it’s a legitimate, original page from the newspaper.


Source: Just by examining the front of the cutout, we can determine that it was produced and printed by the Vancouver Sun newspaper, based in Vancouver. We can also see that the production company is called Broadway Across Canada. However, it’s much more difficult to determine the year of production. Using outside sources, we can infer that this was printed sometime between May 28th and June 29th, 2014.


A program and ticket from the production


Context: During the 2014-2015 Broadway Across Canada season, other touring productions included The Book of Mormon and Flashdance – The Musical. Out of the other productions that year, Wicked had the longest running time, as well as historically, the best sales at the theatre. These reasons, amongst others, may have motivated a strong advertisement campaign. Typically, full-page newspaper ads are used for businesses with large scale advertisement campaigns. This may explain why there was such a large advertisement for this production in the newspaper. 

Description: From the perspective of someone who doesn’t know the plot of the musical, the poster may contain confusing elements. Facial expressions, colours, and shapes might seem intriguing to the target audience, and may ultimately attract more customers. In addition to this, fans of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz may draw parallels between the classic story and certain aspects of the advertisement. The green-skinned figure dressed in classic “witches garb” placed in juxtaposition with the fair-skinned figure dressed in white can easily be compared with the characters in Baum’s novel. These iconic elements could’ve been included to catch the eye of any potential consumers who are interested in the musical’s connections with The Wizard of Oz. 

Inferences about Perspective: The designer of this advertisement was likely associated with Broadway Across Canada. Presumably, the main purpose of this source was to attract customers and many elements of the ad are included for this purpose. The ad includes the dates and location of the shows, as well as a positive review. Beneath the main logo, there is a message urging viewers to purchase tickets as well as resources to do so. Since this is a fairly recognized logo, the advertisement likely relies heavily on the colours, logo, and title to catch attention. Other information provided is likely to make sales. 

Inferences about Inquiry Question: By examining this source, I thoroughly explored the reasoning behind the composition of this advertisement. It was interesting to think deeply about marketing a show I’m familiar with, as I needed to think about key elements advertisers would want to market to their audience. After analysis, I wonder how much advertisements such as these affect the overall image of brands. Although this artifact has been displayed on my wall for years, I had never given it so much thought. 

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