SpiderMan Falls or Fails

by Stephen Dean

As many of you have heard the show”Spiderman” that is playing In preview on Broadway has been beset with a few problems. Today (22/12/10) the announced that a performer had plunged into the orchestra pit after his flying rig fail. This $65 million production has over the last few weeks has had many technical problems, this latest is just one of many. In these preview runs there was one night were the show stopped 5 times because of technical problems.  Now this show is meant to open on Jan 11th 2010. So the purpose of these previews is to get it right, but it seems to me that there have been a lot of things wrong with the show. The latest performer to be injured is the 4th person to sustain an injury on this production. There has been multiple numbers of “technical” incidents with performers left hanging for lengths of time over the stage and /or audience. The show has been halted many times when an audience has been present as they fix yet another technical hitch. Now all of the injuries are being investigated by OSHA which is having an ongoing inspection of the production. The producers have also agreed to improve safety protocols after meeting with investigators and a union rep from Actors Equity Association. There was one Twitter post “DOES SOMEONE HAVE TO DIE?” from Tony Award winning Alice Ripley. Audiences have been heard to complain with the various breakdowns. There has been a lot of comment and conjecture about the show. You just need to read online blogs and the newspapers to find stories of woe where this show is concerned. Amongst these comments there has been also some positive comments and some audiences are liking what they see.

Have the producers pushed the boat out to far? With the amount of cash that they have spent it is going to take at least 3 years to recoup the costs and break even. Are people throwing to much money at spectacular and not substance? Now is this telling us something? Have we gone too far and now are trying to recreate on stage what we see on the big screen. Maybe this is not the way we want to go, where spectacular takes the place of the story.  Should we be leaving the major effects to Hollywood and get back to real theatre, present the story first and the compliment it with light, audio and set. I was trained in the belief that the story was what people wanted, so has theatre totally changed and people are wanting the over the top, rock and roll experience as their theatre. Only time will tell. I wish the folks that are putting Spiderman on the best of luck, and if it toured here I would certainly go and see it. But is it the right direction? Only time will tell.


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