Spiderman--The Musical (God Help Us All)
"Shrewd is the one that has seen the calamity and proceeds to conceal himself..." (Proverbs 22:3 NWT)
I need to build a case here. Growing up, Spiderman was easily my favorite superhero as a kid and remained so until this day. And when I lived back east, I spent an unhealthy amount of time in New York frequenting Broadway shows. Therefore, I'm coming from a place of loving both Spiderman, and Broadway--the way I love sushi and waffles--with the "of course not!" awareness that never the twain shall meet. I'm still a theater buff, and while I have heard the buzz about "Spiderman the musical," I dismissed it as a fable, or the silly untruth of mean-spirited individuals. Though my powers of denial are as a sharp as ever, I've noticed that my right hand does involuntarily clench into a fist whenever I've heard "Spiderman" and "musical" in the same sentence. Sadly, my right hand knew the truth all along.
At a price-tag dangling somewhere around 65 million, "Spiderman-Turn off the Dark" is the most expensive Broadway production in history. It is estimated that the show will have to run for 5 years in order to just break even. Despite the sheer lunacy of the concept and title itself, The Production, (as I shall now refer to it; I just can't write "Spiderman-The Musical" again without withering into dust), has enough major-league names behind it to at least be taken seriously. The music was done by Bono and the Edge, and for those of us who to dare to dream, one can only hope that the music itself would bring the show out of the tomato-throwing zone. Director Julie Taymor, with the critically-acclaimed Broadway production of "The Lion King" under her belt, is also a glimmer of hope for The Production. Personally, I found "The Lion King" to be absolutely stunning, and I needed several reality checks to remind myself that Simba's troubles were not my own. It was brilliant. However, with cast injuries for The Production growing by the week--broken ribs, a punctured lung, bilteral broken wrists of one Spiderman (pretty sure he needs those), a broken foot--we all have to wonder if the body count will be to high to ever open The Production. The show might need a superhero of its own--let's call him "Decent Entertainment Man!"--to the rescue.
Prior to the official opening, a Broadway production will run for a limited time for the previews. Theater patrons pay full ticket price, or close to it, to see the show prior to critic review. It is, in reality, a chance to iron out kinks before critique. The practice is losing steam in some respects, as even the most avid theater buff bemoans the full-ticket cost of a show that is still essentially under construction. Last night, I spent some time with my friend Joe on his return from his visit home to New York. He braved the beautiful New York snow to take his daughter to see The Production. He is a writer, musician and corporate executive and I was definitely eager to hear his take on the show. A born and bred New Yorker, I was certain his would be the most--well...honest of reviews, sans any California sugar-coating. I pride myself on having a very open mind, and though I have my own prejudice against The Production, I was ready for Joe to surprise me with a good review.
"It's appalling," he stated calmly.
"Wow. As bad as it sounds?" I asked.
"Every bit. Every bit as bad."
"What about the music? Bono? The Edge?" I tried to be hopeful.
"They slipped a decent song somewhere in there. Mostly mediocre though...at best." He said, and sipped his beer.
Joe being a comically serious person had a forlorn, if not worried disposition, as he went on:
"The writers have all lost their objectivity. The whole things needs a re-write, but the second act is particularly upsetting. You have no idea what's going on. You don't care about the characters, the plot is indecipherable, and you literally spend a good part of the show concerned for the lead's welfare. Not his character's welfare, but the lead's actual bones, the stunts are mostly worrisome." I could tell Joe wanted to lead a focus group.
"But..." he sighed. "This is America. It could catch on."
I shook my head in worried agreement. The undeniable truth of his statement brought to mind a troubling incident, I have to relate. I forgive easily, but one person I can't seem to forgive is the "inventor" of the Snuggie. I hate its construction, its concept, and its popularity in no particular order. As my hatred for Snuggies is well-known, a co-worker bought me a shockingly blue Snuggie for Christmas. She couldn't stop laughing while insisting I put it on, to show my good manners.
"I look like an ordained minister for Muppets." I had the urge to roam Fraggle Rock yelling, "Repent! Repent!"
Tears streamed my co-workers' face as she attempted to stop laughing. I surveyed the fabric of that atrocity noting it to be a poorly constructed combination of cookie monster fur, apathy, and commercialism.
I sighed knowing Joe is right. In so grave a climate of taste, a show like, The Production, might just make it. With the right marketing, and media attention, Americans might just flock to see the Broadway show with the biggest budget in history. Even without a plot or decent music, with the precedent of notorious injuries of the cast, my fellow countrymen may spend their hard earned money just for the prospect of being part of the audience where Spidey ruptures his spleen. I hope to be on valium for the opening.
Show opens February 2011. Assuming the entire cast isn't in casts.