Reading the reports from Sunday night's first preview of Spider Man, as well as comments on this page, I thought it was time to clear some things up.
First up: Michael Riedel of the New York Post, a nasty piece of work who seems hell bent on closing this show before it begins. On Sunday night Riedel slithered into the Foxwoods Theater, kissed everyone he could on a check or two, and glad handed every single person of power he could surprise into a handshake. It was quite amusing. Even Julie Taymor said hello to him, despite what he's written about her. I don't know how long it took him to get to a computer to begin his bloodletting after the show. He is peculiar. He wants so much to be part of the establishment, and to kill them at the same time.
Second: before the performance began, producer Michael Cohl warned the audience there would be "stops." This is common in previews, and certainly for the first few. Producer Judy Gordon brought Barnum to Broadway in the 1980s. She told me today that the first previews were a mess, that audience members kept walking out, and that Barnum's tightrope was a constant problem. Barnum went on to be a smash hit.
The "stops": There was only one stop in all of Act Two. In Act One, the few breaks came because of the flying mechanism. "Both Spider Man and Arachni share some wires," a backstage insider explained to me. " We had to make sure they were correct."
Here's a scoop: one of the Act One stops occurred because a dresser in the basement had put on one of the Spider Man costumes backwards by accident. "They'd never done a particular change before so quickly. When they realized the mistake they had to stop and fix it." That's live theater!
Riedel is wrong: I sat in Row O, a ticket I bought on Ticketmaster.com. At no time was anyone left "dangling in mid air" over us. The Arachni character was suspended on a pulley, sitting comfortably, over the stage, for about ten minutes. It was no big deal. Only a real nitwit would think otherwise.
Oh, and the crazy woman who yelled out the "guinea pig" line. You'd have to be a real rube, just off the bus from Sheboygan, to think that wasn't a set up. In 40 years of attending Broadway shows, previews, hits, flops, whatever, I've never heard anyone do anything like that. Either the woman was off her meds, or someone was paying her.
Here's the reality: Julie Taymor and co. have put together something truly remarkable for a Broadway show. What did work on Sunday was most everything: mid-air battles, sets like giant pop up books, catchy rock songs, totally original eye candy costumes. Was it perfect? No, and it won't be for several more shows. Will it be worth the wait until it is? I think so. Like Bono and the Edge's new anthem says, maybe everyone should "Rise Above" all the noise below.