About This Blog

I really like theatre, and I like writing and talking about it.

This blog is mostly about my relationship with theatre, the moments that make me fall in love with this art form, and the times when we don't always get along.

I'll be writing about things that I like, that I think are good and interesting and want to share. I will probably also write about things that I don't quite get, or think are wierd. I may also write about things that aren't theatre, strictly speaking, because it's my blog and I can.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Peculiar Financial Interest in Being Mocked

"If most theater artists and producers are intensely protective of their shows, those at “Spider-Man” have a peculiar financial interest in being mocked."

The above quote links to an article from today's New York Times. It sounds like while the producers are enjoying the "any publicity is good publicity" philosophy, The artists involved (see Julie Taymor's reaction to the criticism at the end of the article) seem to cringe a bit more.

 The show's notoriety is putting butts in seats, but it's important to care whether your work is good. If you don't, seriously, head home. There's a professional opera singer whose blog I follow who obsesses over each performance; she's constantly concerned with whether she did her best in each performance, and is devastated if she flubs a note. She sees it as a flaw, but I see it as a virtue. The priority needs to be that the audience sees the best possible version of the show for their money every time, which is why it's so disdainful that the Spider-Man producers are charging full-price for tickets to what are essentially dress rehearsals, and sucking up the mockery as good advertising.

You'll actually probably see a fair number of critics releasing reviews after tomorrow, even the show is still technically in previews for another months. The show finally has an ending, and supposedly there will be no further substantial changes to the show. This week was to be the official opening before they pushed back by another month, so while critics are still far from a consensus on what appears to be a finished show that refuses to open, we'll see who continues to hold off until they make things official.

Another quote from today's NYTimes article jumped out at me: "Michael Cohl, the lead producer, said in an interview. “What I know is that people are talking about ‘Spider-Man’ to what seems like an unprecedented degree.”

Isn't that what I said about Elevator Repair Service's Gatz! a few months ago? Yup, I did.  Notice Point C in the linked post. Yes, theater can be critically praised AND polemic AND get people talking. Of course, Spider-Man reached a lower common denominator by appealing to people who have heard U2's music and seen a Spider-Man film (I'm not counting on them having read the comic book), whereas Gatz! appeals to people who read novels.

Ok, maybe I'm getting a little sarcastic about the American arts consumer, but there's a big disparity between people who create theater, and people who go to theater. Maybe I'm just not willing to admit to myself that Spider-Man is what people want to see, but it's current success may change when the reviews finally start coming out. To quote producer Elizabeth I. McCann the NYTimes article for one last time:

 “But at some point, I think, people are going to say that the emperor has no clothes where the so-called musical spectacle of ‘Spider-Man’ is concerned, and the adult audience will start to lose interest.”

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