Expect to hear more about Patrick Healy's NY Times article covering last night's first preview of Spider-Man. (Posted online now,
but not in today's print edition. Will it run? and, in print, on page A21 of the Metro section--probably because it's one of the last sections to go to press.) Read it, and tell me if you don't think it comes awfully close to breaking the Preview Taboo that the respectable press is supposed to observe.
Still, no denying it's an irresistible read, reminiscent of really oldschool journalism--like The Tatler.
All $65 million of the new Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” took flight on Sunday night at its first preview performance, but not without bumps. The show stopped five times, mostly to fix technical problems, and Act I ended prematurely, with Spider-Man stuck dangling 10 feet above audience members, while Act II was marred by a nasty catcall during one of the midperformance pauses....The fourth and final pause at the end of Act I was the worst glitch of the night by far. Spider-Man had just flown and landed onstage with the musical’s heroine, Mary Jane Watson (played by Jennifer Damiano), in his arms. He was then supposed to zoom off toward the balcony seating area, a few hundred feet away. Instead, a harness and cables lifted Spider-Man several yards up and over the audience, then stopped. A production stage manager, C. Randall White, called for a halt to the show over the sound system, apparently in hopes of fixing and re-doing the stunt. Crew members, standing on the stage, spent 45 seconds trying to grab Spider-Man by the foot, as the audience laughed and oohed. When they finally caught him, Mr. White announced intermission, and the house lights came on.Some Act One curtain!
So as much I enjoy this, I do think the Times should answer to the charge of "reviewing" previews, even if they're technically not. This is especially important at a time when "The Internet" and "Bloggers" are constantly blamed for ruining the practice of criticism by doing such things.
The truth is, what you see here is a blatant move by the Times to get in on the action. The action of All That Chat, specifically. Notice how they have their gossipy story online already, probably just a few hours after the firstSpidey chatroom post. No doubt the Times also assumed that Riedel would have a story in the Post--and he does.
The Times has certainly done stories about "troubled" productions in previews before. But that's always been after there were a series of troubled previews to report about, and days/weeks of buzz. In this case, Healy clearly went to the show himself last night with the express intention of writing about it. And while he doesn't express an "opinion" or critical judgment about the show being good or bad...um, he sure doesn't make last night sound like a good night of theatre. And he quotes several audience members for their responses--a virtual "chat room" of opinions, as it were.
I don't know if I'm really outraged or not at this point, frankly. But with moves like this I do think it's time for major print media to finally get off it's high horse about what was once known as critical "ethics," especially when criticizing (so sue me) bloggers or anyone who writes online.
In other words...welcome to the club, Grey Lady!