With Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark postponing tonight’s performance, and with my new think piece for the Huffington Post waiting for approval, I’ve pretty much had enough of wall-to-wall Spidey everything.
I grieve for Christopher Tierney, who I do not know, because CBS reports he’s headed for back surgery tonight and, according to his brother, it’s unclear whether he’ll ever perform on stage again.
Tierney’s injuries — well, all the injuries — are as important as how $65 million got spent on this ostensible tribute to visual vanity in the first place.
(No, I haven’t seen the show yet. Yes, I’ll see one of the post-opening press performances, assuming there’s an opening. No, I’m not prejudging the show. Yes, I’m assuming the visuals will be dazzling. No, I’m not ragging on dazzling visuals. Yes, I’m saying that visuals in lieu of substance offends me. No, I’m not saying there isn’t substance. Yes, I’m saying I’m completely bothered by any show that requires four actors hurt before an opening. No, I’m not saying that the creative team hasn’t right or reason to work out the kinks. Yes, I’m saying that repeatedly postponing an opening is completely ludicrous. Yes, I’m saying it tells you something about the show. No, I’m not saying you have to agree. Yes, I’m right.)
Meantime, according to CNN, Adam Pascal has retreated somewhat from his tweet that director Julie Taymor should be put in jail for “assault.” I find all the piling on today, starting with Alice Ripley’s tweet (“Does someone have to die?”) a little suspect. I don’t want to give too much away, but my Huffington Post post reminds us that there’s a history of people dying or being injured on stage. In the case of Moli√®re, though, there was some actual acting going on. No offense to the various injured in Spider-Man, but whether the authorities call it human or mechanical error, the dramatic rise in the number of injured on Broadway is alarming. Where was Alice Ripley, where was Adam Pascal, when Joel Vig was injured during a 2003 performance of Hairspray? More to the point, do they even know about his seven-year-long legal battle just to have his day in court? Where were all the screaming Mimis when Adrian Bailey fell 20 feet during The Little Mermaid? The Wall Street Journal’s quick summary has it about right.
I also think the wailing from certain quarters about Spider-Man charging full-price tickets for preview performances is the most idiotic idea since “President Sarah Palin” entered the lexicon. In a Gothamist post, John Del Signore briefly touches on this, but let’s ask history to guide us. The first thing I thought of, frankly, was the musical Merlin, which logged some 69 preview performances 27 years ago before never officially opening to press, at which point Frank Rich of the New York Times went anyway and reviewed it. I can’t imagine Merlin ever had much on Spider-Man in terms of ambition, scope, budget or theatrics, but I believe people paid full-price for tickets then, too. This is commercial theater. If people want to see it, they’ll pay for it. Screaming about ethics, like the people at All That Chat do? Strictly amateur. And I quote from Mr. Rich:
While the producers of Merlin may consider the musical not yet ready to be seen by critics, they have allowed in more than 60,000 paying customers since Dec. 10 at the full, $40-top ticket scale. Open or not, Merlin is already, after Cats, the second-longest running musical of the season.
If you don’t like what the Spider-Man producers are doing or presenting, don’t go. How’s that? It’s called “the market.”
Finally, my friend Rik Sansone came up with a Top 10 List that I think is fun.
10. “They’re changing the title to Spider-Man: Turn on the Safety.”
9. “If you want to get that close to the edge, go up and talk to him — he’s very approachable.
8. “Looks like an Actor decided to do an improv. version of the economy.”
7. “The cast and crew didn’t get enough time with the shake weight before the show.”
6. “Didn’t your crew learn anything from the housing scandal? Have a safety net.”
5. “He wanted to impress the casting directors from Brett Favre: The Movie.”
4. “Hey, watch this!”
3. “So…does this mean the green goblin wins?”
2. “Hey, that’s the only part of the story that made sense!”
1. “Where the hell are the singing cats?”