When Broadway performer (and friend) Mary Page Nance approached me with a website project for her new Broadway event production company, Monocle Productions, it was an obvious yes. But what I didn’t know at the time of signing on was just how wholly and entirely creatively fulfilling this project would turn out to be— personally, professionally, artistically, and creatively.
Let’s just dive right in.
The Backstory—It’s Worth It, I Promise
If you’ve spent any time on my website or stalking my socials, you know that I live a double life as both a website designer and NYC-based performing artist.
Back in 2019, a music director friend of mine texted me and said “Hey, I have a really weird and wild gig that I need singers for. It’s a suuuuuper high-profile, luxury event on the Upper East Side. It pays really well. Are you down?”
Ummmmmm, obviously I was down.
I’ll spare you most of the details (and I can’t even really tell you them anyway, because I am literally under NDA—that’s how high-profile it was), but let’s just say that it was the wildest, most NYC gig a young performing artist could ever imagine.
To give you a little bit of an idea here…
The gorgeous, Upper East Side ballroom we performed in featured a huge pool in the center and an open bar with top shelf liquors. But don’t worry, they had a stage custom-built for us over the pool (!!!!!) so that we’d have room to belt some Broadway showtunes at them while they ate steak and drank champagne.
It was Gossip-Girl-level-wealth.
It was also the most money my starving artist eyes had seen in one place. 😂
And the woman in charge of our performance section of the event was Mary Page Nance, a fellow performer who I had seen in a Broadway show a few years prior. This event would turn out to be such a success for her that it would be the catalyst for her to start the very first Broadway production company specifically for luxury events: Monocle Productions.
A whole pandemic later, we finally got to give it the internet home it deserves.
Monocle Productions creates fully custom Broadway performances for luxury events. WTF does that even mean? It means if you give her the big bucks, she’ll conceptualize an entire creative vision, hire a creative team, cast singers, lead rehearsals, and coordinate the entire thing so that you can literally be the talk of the town.
I mean… are we kidding with that?
I’ve performed in two Monocle Productions events (an Upper East Side birthday and a Hampton’s bar mitzvah), and I can confirm that the shows she puts together are as luxury as luxury can get.
The Goals & Deliverables
While the goal of every website project I do is to convert, the main goal of this website felt like convert on steroids. I.e., convince people to fill out her contact form and spend tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars.
And beyond that massive goal, more goals included:
- Establish an overall creative direction that feels just as much “luxury and uptown” as it does “cutting-edge and downtown”.
- Highlight Mary Page’s unique expertise, while still making it feel like a collective, artist-driven effort.
- Build trust with users through wow!’s at every turn.
- Veer away from cheesy or basic “Broadway” imagery. (No theatre masks, here!)
- Stake a claim for being Artist-First. AKA, we pay artists here. And we pay them well.
In order to meet these goals, we built a 6-page website; minimal enough to remain luxe, and built-out enough to give people an idea of the sheer joy that Monocle Productions is capable of giving them anytime, any place.
As with any endeavor that’s never been done before, it takes a bit of explaining. You do Broadway shows at bar mitzvahs? What?
So, we had to be extremely careful with how we laid out the content sections on each page so that it would make the most sense to viewers.
Halfway through the project, we ended up working with talented copywriter Between the Lines Copy to help us write the words that live on these content sections. It helped us achieve an extra level of clarity so as not to confuse anyone!
(Shameless plug for my talented copywriter friend, Sara, at Between the Lines. Hire her, immediately. If you’re even slightly thinking of working with a copywriter, do it.)
Another challenge we stumbled across in the beginning was settling on a creative direction. The name Monocle is inspired by a 1930’s french nightclub that was just as exclusive as it was inclusive of different queer identities. Figuring out how to marry the 1930’s photography with incredibly high-quality, 2022 video rehearsal footage was no small task.
I think I did okay though, if I do say so myself 😉
Have I ever been more obsessed with the creative direction of a website before? I honestly don’t think so. Here’s how we overcame the design challenges in favor of our lofty list of goals.
Video, Video, and More Video
Video is the GAG these days, and for good reason. I mean, what better way to quite literally bring your website to life?
While I do think most brands would benefit from video & b-roll content, this ESPECIALLY applied to Monocle Productions. So much so that when we started, I said, “MP, hire a videographer for your next rehearsal”. And she did.
Love it when clients listen to me. 😂
As a result, the sight moves and breathes and rejoices and dances along with you as you scroll. And when you hire Monocle, you’ll be doin’ the same damn thing.
A Unique Font Pairing Moment
On our initial kickoff call, Mary Page said “it needs to feel like uptown meets downtown.” And I immediately knew: that means we need to pair a sans serif & serif.
Thankfully, Seabiscuit Creative understood the assignment and chose Hello Paris for the logo font. It ended up being the perfect pairing with my sans serif choice, Archivo Black.
Using them together to create a unique heading pairing was the perfect solution. (And it allows us to draw attention to certain words in a more creative way than simply bolding them would ever allow.)
History, Textures, and Modern-Day, Intertwined
If you scroll through the site you’ll notice “Monocle girls” (as MP and I liked to call them) peeking out of nooks and crannies on every page. Whether in the footer, as texture for headers, or hiding behind overlays, you can see actual, real live 1930’s photographs from Le Monocle in Paris.
They serve as visual reminders that while Monocle is creating the most unique events in NYC in 2022, the meaning behind the name and concept for the whole entire thing goes much deeper. Read more about its rich history here.
My Favorite Parts
Circular Features Throughout…. But Especially on the About Page
I wanted to make sure there were lots of circular shapes—because… the monocle of it all— but this part in particular has me gagged every time. I loved playing with MP’s brand photos here. And the glitter.
The Shop Page
MP has merch, too, and it is all the rage amongst my performer friends on Instagram. Since a core value for Monocle is being artist-first, I wanted to make sure this page felt community-driven. Like yeah, you can absolutely buy the hat if you’re a luxury client, but they’re really for us. 😉
Produce Your Luxury Broadway Event with Monocle Productions: Now Live
Getting to be a performer, designer, brand-builder and confidant on this project has fulfilled me in ways I cannot possibly explain.
If you’re looking for a custom Broadway event production company, look no further than Monocle NYC.
And if you’re looking for a brand and website design experience as epic as this one, you know where to find me.
CREDITS & COLLABORATORS
Website Design, Development, Creative Direction, Brand Strategy: Kleist Creative
Logo Design: Seabiscuit Creative
Hey, I'm Sarah Kleist.
Brand builder, website designer, and performing artist on a mission to help creatives and business owners step into their digital spotlight.
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