The Spider-Man musical has previewed on Broadway to a chorus of boos from the press and I am bewildered as to why Broadway has not harnessed the power of social networking to counter the effect of people like the New York Post’s Michael Riedel, otherwise known as the Butcher of Broadway.
It’s a grossly unfair practice, dismissing a show on its technical preview and amping up the pressure on the team behind it who have millions invested, almost a bloodsport. But that’s the way the media’s moved – into a place where they have to keep creating stories to keep ahead of the Internet.
It bothers me that Broadway haven’t realised that they could get fans of Spider-Man in to blog and tweet about the show first, though. Let’s not forget that the heroic arachnid is one of the most popular brands on the planet – surely the team behind the musical could harness the huge fan base (and possibly even create more fans in the process) by inviting them in to given their perspective online, thus diluting the poison pens of some of the more rabid critics.
The publicists for the Spider-Man musical must be troubled by the reception the previews have had, and by balancing the needs of the media against the needs of the show. Currently, the media seems to be winning, as the flurry of articles claiming that the show is doomed suggests.
Critics are a vital part of the Broadway process, of course, but it seems counter-intuitive to let them in to the previews that are put on to see what could go wrong in front of a live audience. The publicity team behind the Spider-Man musical would surely be better off inviting devotees of the comics character in to offer their opinion online via Twitter instead – they would be far more likely to get constructive opinions that don’t quail when the need to sell newspapers kicks in.
It makes sense, surely, to get it as right as possible before the critics and their agendas get the chance to wade in. If the show stinks after that, on their own heads be it, of course.