Wednesday, December 01, 2010

You've got to read this Spiderman review

The Spiderman musical opened for previews this week on Broadway after many postponements, several injuries, and millions of dollars up in smoke.

Here's the New York Post's account of opening night.  

I was laughing out loud.  It wasn't schadenfreude because I don't know any of the people involved and harbor no one ill will.   I think the fact that this was real, not a NOISES OFF "created" train wreck just makes this account of an opening-night-epic-flop an instant classic.

27 comments:

Seth Kolloen said...

Ha! Saw that myself--the same night, I was taking in a preview of a Broadway-bound musical that's starting small, in Seattle--A Christmas Story: The Musical. Many fewer actors got stuck above the audience.

http://www.thesunbreak.com/2010/11/29/if-were-choosing-debuts-ill-take-a-christmas-story-and-new-york-can-have-spider-man

sephim said...

It's certainly no Springtime For Hitler...

Alice said...

Noises OFF is one of my favorite movies and I also saw it in London's West End and it was marvelous.

BOB said...

How much per ticket for the privilege of witnessing this train wreck?

RCP said...

OMG - you DO NOT want to piss off an actual NYC audience (as opposed to bussed-in tourists, who no doubt are capable of getting ugly too).

At least audience members will be able to sit around years hence and regale everyone with tales of being at the "Opening Night of Spiderman"

Wonder how they're going to "spin" this spidery disaster...

John Bulivi said...

I wonder if "theatergoer Steve Poizner" is that Steve Poizner, in which case that was however many dollars well wasted.

Sue DeNimm said...

Disclaimer: I do know a couple of people involved. And this one guy from the Post has had it in for this production from the very beginning.

Previews is not opening night. If it's still like this on opening night for real, then everyone can wallow in schadenfreude. For now, can we please cut these folks some slack?

Anonymous said...

You know the old saying, A bad dress rehearsal means a great opening night is at hand!

Ian said...

One of the network news shows had a story on these same events, but they also said that a MILLION dollars in tickets were sold the following day, dodgy reviews notwithstanding. It sounds to me like a terrible idea for a show... far too dependent upon stage gimmickry and and props to be anything but an elaborate novelty. As one of the other posters pointed out, there's far less to go wrong when you're adapting "A Christmas Story" for the stage. It does make you wonder what might be next... I'm thinking "Inception, the Musical."

yourprotagonist2 said...

Julie Taymor has done for Spider-Man what she did for Shakespeare and The Beatles; transformed iconic, popular works into MFA stroke material.

cb said...

Bias right up front.

I hate puppets...and if you are a theatre guy from New York and you hate puppets, then you hate Julie Taymor. Since the early eighties. Through the Lion King and forever. I discovered a new "factor" in art-hate equations. Hate it. Now Bono it.

It's an exponential thing.

So, yes, protagonist2, yes.

Still...as a stage manager I have to go with Sue DeNimm. Cut these guys some slack until opening.

Then...

Craig M. said...

If you're wondering what a washed-up Spider-Man looks like, this health club ad has a clue:

http://craigmcnamara.blogspot.com/2008/08/advertisings-hero-worship-part-1.html

Phillip B said...

This is the moment in "The Bandwagon" when Fred Astaire takes over the production, of course, and a happy ending is at hand -- with Bono joining the mechanical spider and the rest of the cast in singing "That's Entertainment."

Pat Reeder said...

To Phillip B:

Bono would never sing "That's Entertainment." It has a tune.

As one of the last living specimens of the heterosexual male musical theater fan, I would seem to be the prime target for a Spider-Man musical, but this seems like a stupid idea even to me. I think I'll wait for "Dirty Harry: The Musical." If I want to see some clown in a garish outfit flying through the air on wires, I'll catch one of the 7,000 Cirque du Soleil shows in Vegas, where at least you have a chance of spotting a few topless showgirls occasionally (I'm only joking about that; I'd rather slit my wrists than sit through another Cirque du Soleil show).

BTW, the book about famous Broadway flops, "Not Since Carrie," notes that one of the hallmarks of the epic flop is that it's done by people who have big egos from their success in other fields but have never done a Broadway show before. On that topic, who in the hell ever mistook Bono and The Edge for Rodgers & Hammerstein?

VP81955 said...

Had this opened in New Haven or Philadelphia or Boston, who would have noticed?

Ah, for the old days of rehearsals. This trainwreck may not even be "It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman."

Mac said...

That is hilarious and I'm sure I'd have laughed long and hard if I'd been in the audience. But I do feel for the people involved - It's a pig to work hard on something and watch it tank so publicly.
It is a preview after all. Yes, I'd have laughed at Spiderman stranded in mid-air (involuntary reaction) but as I'm guessing it's a technically complex show, it should be allowed to fail at this stage.

Bob Summers said...

As for the million dollars in ticket sales after being featured on "60 Minutes":

A restaurant cook I know told me about the time his restaurant was featured on a TV show that highlights local things to do. No sooner did the segment end and they were flooded with calls for reservations. For whatever reasons, those folks did not become repeat customers.

I guess the moral is that folks see stuff on TV and buy into it. When the first local station went on the air, some of the sales department drove around counting antennas. To prove to advertisers that TV was for them, they made their own fake ad for a pillow cleaning company and charted the response as evidence. And they got response.

lucifervandross said...

Was George Kaufman buried wrapped in wire? Because if we take a magnet to his grave right now we can solve the energy crisis.

(it's an adapted Dilbert joke)

l.a.guy said...

For anyone interested, here's the 60 Minutes story.

Broadway is a tough nut to crack, even for music superstars. Just ask Paul Simon.

Bob Claster said...

Michael Reidel is drunk on his own power, and has been gunning for this show ever since it was announced. I've read a number of accounts of this first preview, and many tell a very different story. It's a very technically complex production, and the decision not to further delay the previews was an economic one rather than a wise one. But everything that is now amazing, at one time, didn't work. I think that anyone who attended the first preview of this show should have known what to expect, and been excited to be in on the early development of something groundbreaking. And most were.

Also... it didn't open/workshop out of town first because the technical demands of the production are such that the theater had to be almost completely redesigned for it, much like the Cirque shows. This ain't The Fantasticks.

Tim Susman said...

@John Bulivi I was wondering that too! In which case, can we really trust his recounting of the musical?

Jeff Maxwell Knott said...

Please. Sixteeeeeeefivemilllllllion dollars. On Spiderman The Musical. In this economy. Please. Some of us have gone insane.

gottacook said...

VP81955: "This trainwreck may not even be 'It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman.' "

Well, of course not. I saw the original 1966 production (at age 9) and learned later on that the songwriters had also done Bye Bye Birdie, which explained why some of Superman's songs were pretty good, especially "You've Got Possibilities" (which resurfaced a year or two ago in a TV ad). Bono and the Edge are not even Adams & Strouse, much less Rodgers & Hammerstein. And the book of the show, "flying" Superman and all, probably was about as divergent from the source material as the book for Spider-Man apparently is, but Superman was a comedy; perhaps Spider-Man should have been as well. (The New York Times' original review is at http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/theater/Superman.pdf.)

Pat Reeder: Are we heterosexual male musical theater fans really all that rare? I hope not.

Bob Claster said...

One of the producers of the SPIDER-MAN show said, in the 60 MINUTES piece, something to the effect of "nobody would want to see the $20 million version of this show we could have put on." The only chance this thing has to succeed is by being bigger, louder, flashier, and cooler than anything that's come before, and that costs bucks. If it works and becomes something every tourist must see, much like THE LION KING, they'll make all their money back and much, much more. They'll keep a lot of people working, and be thought geniuses.

Adams & Strouse were probably available, but these are guys in their 80s. Do you really think that's the best choice to reach a young audience?

I don't understand why so many are gunning for this show. If it succeeds, it will attract more tourists to Broadway, who will probably see more than just the one show. It will help young people get used to some of the conventions of musical theater. And again, it will keep a lot of people working during a difficult time.

D. McEwan said...

Hello? This was a PREVIEW, not Opening Night! Now they know why shows used to preview out of town, so critics didn't pull this kind of crap, reviewing it before it's actual Opening Night! A show about Spider-Man is obviously going to have a lot of extreme technical challenges that will take a lot of hard work to make ready and working. Lighten up, Post, and review it OPENING NIGHT!

A woman is quoted as saying she felt like a test subject. Audiences at previews ARE test subjects! You want to see the finished show? Wait, pay the higher, real-show prices, and see this finished show after it actually opens!

Do I have to go through the list of great Broadway classics which would have closed in a week if their first preview out-of-town was reviewed?

I saw a performance of Shakespeare's Perecles at the Olivier Theater in London once, starring recent Tony winner Douglas Hodge. It was a disaster. Tech problems galore. Trap doors opening when they shouldn't (almost killing one actor), scenery getting snagged and fouled up on other scenery during scene changes, the tech machinery breaking down completely, a 45 minute intermission while they tried to fix things.

But you know what - it was a preview! So we said to ourselves: "it still needs work." By Opening Night, it was another story.

Okay my fellow writers out there: Who wants the New York Post to review your next first draft? Hands? Anyone? Anyone at all? No.

I didn't think so.

Rob said...

Who on earth thought this was a good idea? Spiderman's the only comic I ever loved, I'm a U2 fan, and I like musicals, but combining the three is like a Reese's Peanut Burger Cup. Blech!

RCP said...

Excellent points, D. McEwan. In my initial comment, at least, I meant "preview" even though I wrote "opening night" - guess it sounded more dramatic that way.