Spider-Man: Broadway Isn’t The Finish Line


The New York critics have weighed in, so what’s left?

What I haven’t heard mentioned in articles and reviews about Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is that, in 2011, for a mega-musical of this kind, Broadway is just an out-of-town tryout. Instead, the producers’ goal is to have a show that will eventually be up and running in a few dozen cities on six continents, simultaneously.

$65 million investment? As of July 2010, according to this article by Ellen Gamerman, the Lion King has earned $2.2 billion worldwide. According to the same article, citing Disney, 10% of the Dutch population saw Tarzan, in a production there. Prior to that, it ran on Broadway for 35 previews and 486 performances and closed due to poor ticket sales. A flop? According to Wikipedia, the show is still running in Hamburg, thanks in part to the leads being cast from a reality TV show, “Ich Tarzan, Du Jane.”

More than in most fields, for us theatermakers it is easy to ignore how quickly the world is changing. It is easy to forget about India, China, Japan, Russia. We work in one room at a time, one space, often in one language, and the audience is either there in that room, in that city and country, or they’re somewhere else.

It would be perilous for any corporation, thinker, artist, or economist to see New York City as the center of the world anymore. I am surprised that we have been doing so with this show. We are just the tryout. I don’t know if it will be a success in the long run (I trust Ada Grey’s review)–but, as with recent events in Egypt, if we think these previews have much to do with us Americans, we are ignoring the rest of the world, the true audience for which, especially at this point, the producers and artists are building the show.

  • February 17, 2011
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