Thursday, December 30, 2010

Turn Off Your Tweets

Despite, or maybe because, I am both a superhero geek and a musical theater nerd, I've been watching the rise and fall and rise and fall again...this time hard...with a broken arm and a fractured rib or three...of Julie Taymor's Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark musical.

When I expressed my initial sense of complete and utter discomfort a friend of mine who is also a theater critic her immediate response was, "C'mon, it's going to have music by Bono and The Edge."

It was only later that I found myself wondering if she was being sarcastic.

The latest on the show, which has just put the latest of four actors in the hospital with stunt-induced injuries and moved one lead actress to quit, is that Broadway actors from other shows have begun tweeting that it should be shut down.

Which bugs me.

Not because I necessarily think that anything that Taymor and Bono et al. have developed is worth someone ending up in the hospital over. Were this a big budget Hollywood film I actually think production would have been shut down some time ago...if only because the financial weight that it's carrying is astronomical and the potential return on investment seems to be evaporating thanks to the bad press over the injuries and some dissatisfied social media chatter.

But I do believe that Taymor has a vision...perhaps one that is reaching a bit farther than it should...and to have other artists dismissing what she is trying to do in 140 characters or fewer seems dismissive and not a little self-serving. And that's to say nothing of what it says to the actors in the show who are moving forward with not a little bravery and a great deal of determination.

Perhaps Turn Off the Dark will become a spectacular failure of historic proportions. Maybe Taymor and crew are going to need to start scaling back a musical that simply overreaches what is safely possible in live theater at the current time.

But to be hurling tweets from the safety of one's own Broadway dressing room hardly seems up to the "show must go on" spirit of things.