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U2 Bringing Spider-man to Broadway

CmdrTaco posted about 7 years ago | from the doing-the-things-that-a-spider-can dept.

Music 110

Music Juice writes "A Broadway musical based on the web-slinging superhero is in the works, Marvel Studios said Friday. It will be directed by Tony winner Julie Taymor with new music and lyrics by U2 frontman Bono and guitarist The Edge. The musical will be the first time a Marvel Comics character has been the subject of a show on Broadway, the company said. No opening date was announced, but Marvel said a reading would take place this summer. "

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110 comments

Success of epic musicals (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | about 7 years ago | (#18839295)

Hopefully they'll run this past some test audiences before really launching. The Lord of the Rings musical disaster shows that musicals epic in scale can't depend on their multi-million dollar special effects to be successful when the plot itself drags and the dialogue is clunky.

Re:Success of epic musicals (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18840119)

Have you actually seen [www.cbc.ca] the LOTR musical? I saw it the first week it opened in Toronto, and actually liked it! Critics are critics because they think they are intelligent enough that they can pick apart something. I was entertained, I felt it was well worth the money for the trip and I was very impressed with the show. Tear it apart all you want, but you just proved to me that all you did was just read a few news snippets and drew uninformed conclusions...

Re:Success of epic musicals (1)

Ucklak (755284) | about 7 years ago | (#18841321)

Public ritics are meaningless when it comes to art.
Art is a personal taste and a critic has no place to tell me if I should like something or not. I really don't care if they like it or not.

Critics in the time of Richard Wagner and Georges Bizet time hated their music. Where are those critics now and who were they?

Re:Success of epic musicals (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | about 7 years ago | (#18841987)

We have critics because some people don't have time to go see and evaluate for themselves every show, song, movie, book, painting, sculpture, etc. that is ever produced by the human race. Choices have to be made. Critics are useful in that regard because they can go see every show, or listen to every song, in fact that is their full-time job. They then evaluate what they see, hear, read, etc., purely based of course upon their own opinions. So the proper way to use critics is to read critical reviews of several shows (books, paintings, whatever) that you have seen, both that you liked and that you disliked, and find a couple of critics whose opinions tend to match your own. Then you can extrapolate that perhaps those critics will have opinions matching your own about shows that you haven't seen yet. Finally, if the critics who tend to agree with you like a show, then you can put it on your short list of shows that you will have time to go see; if they don't like it, then you needn't bother with it. It's kind of like asking a friend "Hey, what'd you think of that movie you saw last weekend? Would I like it?"

Yeah, you'll miss some good shows this way, and you'll see some that you don't like. But unless you can really go see everything, you're not going to see all the ones you would think are good, and using critics properly gets you a better selected set of go-see shows than random selection.

Of course critics are not some sort of Supreme Court of Art. Nobody except some of the more pompous critics themselves would claim that. But, because of the way people use critics, getting good critical reviews can be crucial to short-term success of any sort of Art. Performance art in particular very rarely gets a chance for long-term success if they have already failed at short-term success, so this is quite important. And yes, sometimes the short-term success does come even though critical reviews were overwhelmingly negative. Statistically, we'd expect this to happen sometimes. If you think of critics as a poll like the Gallup poll, then it is immediately obvious that sometimes the results of the poll (a limited sample) will be quite far off of the population average.

Critics aren't (or at least shouldn't be) telling you that you should like or dislike any particular work. In some sense, they are making a guess as to whether or not you would like or dislike a particular work. If you look at it this way, then critics suddenly seem much less meaningless.

Re:Success of epic musicals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18842907)

So the proper way to use critics is to read critical reviews of several shows (books, paintings, whatever) that you have seen, both that you liked and that you disliked, and find a couple of critics whose opinions tend to match your own.
It's hardly necessary to agree with a critic's choices to use that critic as a gauge. As long as you have developed an understanding of a certain critic's preferences, you can easily discern how a given review meshes with your own tastes.

Re:Success of epic musicals (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 7 years ago | (#18843957)

I saw it opening week in Toronto too. And I was bored. I'm not particularly a musical kind of guy, but I know I preferred the others I'd seen. "The show goes ooooooooonnnn....and on and on and oooooooooooooonnnnnnnn"

Re:Success of epic musicals (2, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | about 7 years ago | (#18840187)

The problem with this stuff is when you try to create a commercial success. On one level it seems like a sure bet: translating popular culture onto the musical stage should result in a popular musical.

The problem is that this kind material doesn't work in the context of a Broadway or London musical. Doom and destiny are not things that make workable drama: drama is about characters making choices about things that mainly affect themselves. It isn't about characters whose decisions have mainly cosmic implications, and who are, in a sense, bit players in a much larger struggle. Spider-man perhaps is closer to dramatic material, in that you can focus on how he must continually choose between what is good for him and what is good for humanity. But it's not drama, it's melodrama. The conclusion can never really be in doubt. Where there is no possibility of doubt, there is no drama.

The only way to put this kind of thing on the stage is by the least dramatic of drama forms. In other worlds LoTR (and possibly Spider-Man) needs to be an opera.

Re:Success of epic musicals (2, Insightful)

ch1a (168446) | about 7 years ago | (#18842943)

I agree completely with the comment about epic musicals. You just can't substitute special effects for artistic vision. However they can be commercial and artistic successes - look at Les Miserables, which has been derided recently but opened to very positive reviews.

Julie Taymor is one of the best impressionistic stage directors out there. If this fails, I promise that it will not be because the production is too realistic and relies on big-budget special effects.

She tends to rely on puppets and imagery rather than pyro and wires.

The Lion King is her most profitable stage show and whatever you think of The Lion King, the puppetry and distinct style were astounding. The first 15 minutes are damn good theater.

Honestly, when I read the headline, I thought "Good Lord. This will fail unless they do it how Julie Taymor would do it".

If you're curious about her work, I'd recommend some movies: Titus, which is a top-notch Shakespeare-to-screen translation or Frida, which came up in this thread earlier.

Also, I'm not too worried about the studios (yes, the movie studios run Broadway nowadays) botching this show. Ms. Taymor tends to demand total artistic control of her productions before she agrees to them. It'll succeed or fail on her merits.

In short, I've never disliked anything she has put on the stage and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this show sees the light of day. It'll certainly be interesting.

Let's just hope that it's better than "It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman" from the 60's. I don't know what traits make a superhero musical work, but that show had none of them.

I Hate to Make This Point But.... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18839315)

When I see things like this, I have to wonder if it's on there because it's a great story with a great Broadway adaptation or is it on there because it has been repopularized by the recent movies & they're hoping to make another quick buck?

All too often, I think it's the latter or merely proof that you can throw enough money at something to make it happen on Broadway.

Re:I Hate to Make This Point But.... (1)

danpsmith (922127) | about 7 years ago | (#18839911)

When I see things like this, I have to wonder if it's on there because it's a great story with a great Broadway adaptation or is it on there because it has been repopularized by the recent movies & they're hoping to make another quick buck?

When I see things like this, I tag them "thatwillsuck".

Re:I Hate to Make This Point But.... (2, Funny)

SetupWeasel (54062) | about 7 years ago | (#18840075)

If you want to be honest about it, that tag will work for any Broadway musical.

Re:I Hate to Make This Point But.... (1)

FuckTheModerators (883349) | about 7 years ago | (#18840457)

If it were Andrew Lloyd Webber in the driver's seat, I'd go for the money-sucking angle.

However, it's Julie Taymor [wikipedia.org] directing, and hopefully involved in the development as well. She did wonders for the Lion King. And her cinematic directing has resulted in some really cool movies too, such as Titus and Frida.

Though some of the coolest stuff she's done was her pre-Lion King puppet work.

I, for one, welcome our Green Goblin puppet overlords.

Can go anywhere. (1, Funny)

crazyjeremy (857410) | about 7 years ago | (#18839321)

Ahh, is there no place Spiderman (And Bono) can't go?

Re:Can go anywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18840083)

Ahh, is there no place Spiderman (And Bono) can't go?

Volcano.

Re:Can go anywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18842371)

If you can go anywhere, why do you never go to the bathroom? Look at this Mess!

From "Mystery on Chimney Rock" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18839329)

One of the old Choose Your Own Adventure books was called Mystery at Chimney Rock. As I recall, there was one spectacularly bad choice that would send you to a page marked:

Aaah-aaaaah-aaaaaaaaah-cht-thunk

This seems an appropriate response to this brilliant idea.

Re:From "Mystery on Chimney Rock" (0, Offtopic)

bhsurfer (539137) | about 7 years ago | (#18839775)

Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit smoking angel dust.

Re:From "Mystery on Chimney Rock" (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 7 years ago | (#18840005)

Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit smoking angel dust.

Or you now know exactly which day will be the right one to take it up again...

$10 says they make his infection an AIDS metaphor (3, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | about 7 years ago | (#18839331)

Come on, the Peter Parker story is an interesting one by comic book and action film standards. But is it really the kind of thing which will translate well to the stage? Spiderman flying around on a harness like Peter Pan is going to HAVE to be campy. How on earth would you play that seriously? A lot of the "cheats" of the film (special FX, CGI, explosions) are not going to be available and the Peter Parker story can only carry you so far.

Though, admittedly, this is a place where a play with actors dressed as cats ran for decades.

Re:$10 says they make his infection an AIDS metaph (1)

linguizic (806996) | about 7 years ago | (#18840045)

I think if anyone can pull this off though it's Julie Tamor. She has a rare visual genius. If you need proof just watch Frida. I know that's a movie, but from what excepts of her adaptation of the Lion King she managed to take a cartoon about animals and portray it on stage without really cheesy costumes. What she also showed in Frida was deep understanding not just of the characters, but more importantly how to communicate the complexities of the character to an audience in an approachable and intriguing way. I expect that she will probably delve into the characters and use them to drive the plot.

The soul of the Sam Rami films is what makes them so good. The stories are so good that even if there weren't cool fight seens in them, they would still be great films. I think Julie Tamor is more likely to understand that than a lot of people.

Let me say that I HATE MUSICALS. There is nothing on earth more hideously cheesy than a musical. They are an attempt to blend a play with music and in the end you get neither. But if this adaptation is to suck, it will be the fault of that self-righteous door-to-door ideal salesman Bono.

You Have Got To Kidding (0, Redundant)

Zygamorph (917923) | about 7 years ago | (#18839341)

A musical Spiderman? That makes as much sense as a musical version of "The Chronicles of Riddick". Spiderman trivial pursuit would be better.

Mind Boggles, news at 11:00.

Why opera doesn't work (2, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 7 years ago | (#18839383)

At least where I live, people don't stand around on street corners singing at each other. Broadway musicals and opera need a more mythical story than Spiderman to work with. West Side Story notwithstanding.

Re:Why opera doesn't work (1)

Miseph (979059) | about 7 years ago | (#18839549)

I think you've kinda missed the point of musicals and opera. Obviously nobody runs around singing through their problems in real life, but a large number of people (I would venture to say "most") relate to music in very emotional ways. the reason that musicals and operas work is that they intertwine music, with all of its emotional meta-data, into the drama such that both are considerably more significant to the audience. By the way, "straight" movies do this too, by having distinctive music in the background during particular scenes.

Well, that and it just adds another element of talent to the production, adding another reason for critics and audience to slather it up with praise and adoration. Simply put, people like listening to talented singers.

Re:Why opera doesn't work (1)

owlnation (858981) | about 7 years ago | (#18839715)

Broadway musicals and opera need a more mythical story than Spiderman to work with.
Um, not sure if you are familiar with opera - the theater genre, as opposed to the browser. Mythical? While many of the best modern, baroque and classical operas from Monteverdi and Purcell onwards do have mythical themes, most of the works popularly shown today have far from mythical themes. La Boheme - for example (or "Rent" in it's even more dumbed down and mundane than the original form) is just a tragic love story. Nothing mythical about it. Nothing even very interesting about it. It's just one example, there are many more. While I'm inclined to agree with you that, you know, a decent story would help considerably, the evidence - sadly - is that mythical just isn't as popular as love and tragedy to that audience.

In my opinion, the story of Peter Parker is complex convoluted high art compared with La Boheme. Not sure that's a good enough reason to put it on a theatre stage though.

Re:Why opera doesn't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18839741)

Nobody goes to the opera for the plot or storyline. They go for amazing music and extremely talented vocalists. If you can't supply that, the best story in world won't save you.

Opera vs. musicals (1)

Kelson (129150) | about 7 years ago | (#18842257)

Nobody goes to the opera for the plot or storyline. They go for amazing music and extremely talented vocalists. If you can't supply that, the best story in world won't save you.

And that's where opera and the Broadway-style musical differ. Opera is about presenting music through a story. Musicals are about presenting a story through music.

If you go to an opera, you're going to see lavish sets and hear people with incredible singing voices. But don't count on understanding every word, because opera singers are trained to treat their voice primarily as an instrument. The story is there in service to the music.

In a musical, however, the music is in service to the story. The actors are trained to sing, but the priority is to convey what the character is thinking, feeling, and doing. In a musical, if you can't understand what the lead actor is singing, something's wrong.

I studied musical theater in college. In one production, one of our leads was a music major rather than a theater major. It was really hard for her to get used to singing in a musical theater style. She said it felt like she was being told to sing badly, because all her training emphasized the sound over the meaning.

Re:Opera vs. musicals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18843211)

Opera is about presenting music through a story. Musicals are about presenting a story through music.
And one of the most popular Broadway musicals ever does neither; it is essentially a musical roll call.

Les Mis is certainly telling a story with music, but Cats is just a bunch of people singing and dancing with tails on.

Re:Opera vs. musicals (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 6 years ago | (#18845617)

Les Mis is certainly telling a story with music, but Cats is just a bunch of people singing and dancing with tails on.

And that's exactly why I didn't like Cats when I saw it. (Long before I actually studied any of this stuff.) It wasn't a musical, it was a dance show.

Re:Why opera doesn't work (1)

Kelson (129150) | about 7 years ago | (#18842107)

Once I found out someone had turned Jekyll and Hyde into a musical (early 1990s), I figured anything was fair game.

regardless of the cheese.... (3, Insightful)

shotgunsaint (968677) | about 7 years ago | (#18839391)

I could be convinced to go see this, if U2 hadn't been involved. My gods, everything these guys have done since the Joshua Tree has been utterly inane and lame pop-crap. I don't want poor, innocent Peter Parker getting all mixed up with these self-important dolts.

Re:regardless of the cheese.... (1)

bogomipz (807251) | about 7 years ago | (#18839531)

Look at it from the bright side; Bono and The Edge will be stuck on a single scene for as long as this play is rolling =P

Re:regardless of the cheese.... (1)

Lisandro (799651) | about 7 years ago | (#18841895)

Uno, dosh, tresh, catorshe! You know, i feel the same way - i keep getting the "but how can you not like them? it's U2!" look whenever i comment this in front of people. Their two latest albums, particularly, are laughably bad.

Anyway, i'm interested in how they plan to fit the Spiderman story into a Broadway musical... it's a comic book after all, and i don't know how well that could work without Spidey jumping arround and shooting spiderwebs arround the stage.

Are you high? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 years ago | (#18841915)

HTDAAB was not pop at all. It brought back a lot of the more clssic rock sounds. Probably there best CD. I found it to be better then Joshua tree. However, Jopshua tree has a lot of memories tied up into it for me, so I probably listen to it more.

Might be worth it... (4, Interesting)

dominique_cimafranca (978645) | about 7 years ago | (#18839457)

...just to hear Bono's rendition of the Spider-Man theme song. "Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can...." Acrobatics aside, the Spider-Man story does have very operatic themes: ambition, death of a parental figure, revenge, and of course, responsibility. So who knows? For the record, Superman was produced as a Broadway musical in 1966, though it only had a very short run. More on Wikipedia. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Might be worth it... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 7 years ago | (#18843351)

Ugh, was that a horrid adaptation! I saw the '75 TV version of it. It made the Star Wars holiday special look like a Stanley Kubrick joint.

First Time? Not true... (5, Funny)

Gerocrack (979018) | about 7 years ago | (#18839459)

The original run of "Rent" ended with The Punisher killing all the other characters with a flamethrower.

Re:First Time? Not true... (1)

Rakarra (112805) | about 7 years ago | (#18843303)

My God, that would have made the rest of that ghastly musical worth it to watch.

You know you're in trouble when the Matt Stone/Trey Parker parody of your show is far superior to the original.

Nerds descend on Times Square (5, Funny)

lbmouse (473316) | about 7 years ago | (#18839473)

Pickpocketers, con men and muggers, mark your calendars. There'll be some easy-juicy targets. You'll just have to catch them before their parents pick them up.

Musicals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18839509)

They are so fucking boring! I barely sat through "Chicago" (the movie) and that was because of the outrageous plot - interrupted by boring songs.

I think many folks go just to say they've gone to a Broadway play: it's a status thing.

Well they already have Legally Blonde on stage (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | about 7 years ago | (#18839523)

Cant be ANY worse than that POS that people actually think will be the next Wicked (Its not and never will be)

Oblig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18839563)

How do I shot web?

Bringing the mass market to stage shows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18839581)

...Is basically what they are doing. Joe six-pack won't go see good original theatre, but throw this crap up, and set it to rock music and he'll gladly pay the $50+ to see it.

(Saw "we will rock you" recently. Too much cheese.)

Broadway has seriously jumped the shark. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18839595)

Have you seen what they're offering these days? There's so little original or even interesting theater there.

Re:Broadway has seriously jumped the shark. (1)

colanut (541823) | about 7 years ago | (#18839879)

It gets worse: Bukowsica!: the Bukowski musical [newwest.net].

The first number sets the scene perfectly with lyrics about coughing up blood and screwing whores, all done as a hilarious send-up of musicals, complete with jazz hands and jazz squares. ("You can be Bukowskical too!" they sing with all their hearts.)

I'm not sure if I should laugh or cry. I couldn't read the article all the way through to find out if it was any good (funny, campy, jaw-droppingly absurd). I suppose I would see it if it came to town. But the whole concept makes my head hurt.

Broadway has jumped the shark.

Re:Broadway has seriously jumped the shark. (1)

aethera (248722) | about 7 years ago | (#18839893)

Its' pretty much been the rule in theatre since Aristotle that whenever a generation's plays weren't all that good, the theatre makes up for it by upping the "Spectacle." For Greeks this meant truly elaborate machines to provide the Deus ex machina. The Romans would flood entire Coliseums to stage naval battles scenes. Medieval tropes would enroll entire towns into recreating imaginative (and often bawdy) scenes in hell. Good theatre, comedy or tragedy really doesn't need more than actors with strong voices, a bit of light, and a good, well written story. When good theatre is lacking, you tend to get Spiderman: the musical.But like that awful, plotless action movie, people will still pay to see it, if just for the effects. And make no doubt, the wire work for a show like Spiderman will be awesome.

Re:Broadway has seriously jumped the shark. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 years ago | (#18842055)

Spider-man is a setting.
There is on reason it can't make a good play.
Yes, if they try to show you spider-man, it will probably suck.
If they try to tell you a spider-man story...really a peter parker story, it can be good.

However, I thin you should read the link before comparing to spider-man

Does Stan Lee have no shame? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about 7 years ago | (#18839699)

He's the creator and has every right to monetize his creation as much as possible but a broadway play? Why not a musical? does he have no integrity left?

This is why I went back to DC (Darkhorse) comics in the early 90s when I was still an avid comic book reader... the Marvel stories had gone all disney and merchandising on me. This is like Lucas rewriting the star wars history to include Jar Jar and adding Mitochlorians to explain the force... bullshit for the masses with no imagination. It's like when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got turned into pizza eating surfer dudes by Archie comics instead of the violent vengeful outcasts that they were when Eastman and Laird created them (wishing those guys could have made some money off their original characters instead of having to sell out to take care of their families).

 

Re:Does Stan Lee have no shame? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18840433)

Do you honestly think that Stan has any say at all over what Marvel does with Spidey? Seriously?

Don't you remember that law-suit he had to file just to get paid?

Marvel owns Spider-man, and from some of the stuff they've put out it's quite clear that they have no shame.

Re:Does Stan Lee have no shame? (1)

PaulMorel (962396) | about 7 years ago | (#18842747)


Eastman and Laird created The TMNT as a spoof of Frank Miller's characters. If they had stayed true to Eastman & Laird's vision, then TMNT never would have risen above a niche comic that only fanboys are aware of.



There ARE times when toning down the original concept is the only way to bring the concept to a larger audience, however, "Spiderman on Broadway" is just bastardizing one niche character to make a buck in a completely unrelated niche.

Re:Does Stan Lee have no shame? (1)

Rakarra (112805) | about 7 years ago | (#18843505)

He's the creator and has every right to monetize his creation as much as possible but a broadway play? Why not a musical? does he have no integrity left?


Look around for some commercials for the superhero reality show he's chairing now. I would say the answer is 'no.'

Stranger than you think (1)

spezz (150943) | about 7 years ago | (#18839731)

It's not just Spiderman the movie, the musical. This production has sprouted balloon feet and a propeller out of its head as it makes its way to crazy town.

From Playbill [playbill.com]:

The character breakdowns provide some insight to plot points as the character Arachne ("female, 20-35 years old, any ethnicity") is described as "a beautiful, boastful young woman turned into a spider for her hubris and lack of respect for the gods. She subsequently appears to Peter Parker and the audience as in turn a powerful spider-woman who comes from another time to inspire Peter; an otherworldly lover; a bride; a terrifying (and sexy) dark goddess of vengeance; a dance partner in a charged and violent spiders dance of death; and, finally, a lonely, fragile young woman." Casting is seeking a "strong Celtic, Balkan style, e.g., Sinead O'Connor," noting, "outside the box ideas are welcomed. Could be someone from the music industry."

Also, a "Geek Chorus" consisting of "three teenage boys and one girl" are described to "meet to ritualistically retell the greatest Spider-Man stories."


"U2 bringing Spider-man to Broadway" (2, Funny)

sxltrex (198448) | about 7 years ago | (#18839847)

To quote Lisa Simpson:

"I know those words, but that sentence makes no sense to me."

Only 22 days late... (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 7 years ago | (#18839863)

This has to be the best April's Fool this year.

I mean, come on, nobody is stupid enough to make a spiderman musical, right?
Right?

Captain America (2, Funny)

JustJon (731538) | about 7 years ago | (#18839877)

didn't Marvel learn after the debacle that was Captain America the Musical? They even had ads in the comics back then saying you could possibly star in it alongside Cap. Of course, it never made it to the stage.

Personally, I'm waiting for the Batman musical Jim Steinman wrote.

What happened to the Captain America broadway show (1)

gtmaneki (992991) | about 7 years ago | (#18840011)

I'm still waiting for the Captain America Broadway show. I remember the ads from either the late 80s or early 90s. There was even a contest where the prize was a part in the show, although I seem to remember that they wanted a girl in the role.

Death throes of American culture (3, Insightful)

paleo2002 (1079697) | about 7 years ago | (#18840191)

Don't get me wrong, I've been enjoying most of the Marvel movies as much as the average SF/comic geek. Spiderman 2 was probably one of the few sequels I've ever seen that was better than the original. But can no one in the entertainment industry come up with an original frickin' idea?!?! Name three hit musicals from the past 10 years that weren't revivals or movie adaptations. The musical is one of the few unique American cultural contributions. We can honestly say that the musical (like Jazz and the internet) is an American invention. Now we have a theatre industry controlled by the over-commericialized mass media, whose investors are looking for a "sure thing". A multi-million-dollar box office hit that'll sell sountrack albums and t-shirts and keep the groundlings enthralled for years. I don't mean to sound elitist. For example, I think Disney musicals are an excellent way to promote appreciation for theatre amongst children. But, come on! What happened to original stories? What happened to character-driven drama? Did all those starving playwrights and composers actually die off? How do we go from West Side Story, The King and I, and Cabaret to Big, Legally Blonde, and Spiderman?

Re:Death throes of American culture (1)

jshark (623406) | about 7 years ago | (#18840565)

Rent
Avenue Q
and...um...that third one...

Re:Death throes of American culture (1)

paleo2002 (1079697) | about 7 years ago | (#18841609)

Always tell someone to "name three". My point is that there is an undeniable decline in the quality of musical theatre as of late. I realize that one generation's pop-culture is another's Shakespeare and I am certainly no expert in theatre history. But, does anyone here think that art/literature students 200 years from now are going to be studying Spiderman: The Musical as closely as we study Othello?

Re:Death throes of American culture (1)

donscarletti (569232) | about 7 years ago | (#18841367)

We can honestly say that the musical (like Jazz and the internet) is an American invention.

I call bullshit on that. While America can claim most of the blame for musical theatre, the English share much of the guilt, Gilbert and Sullivan were making musical comedies in the early 1870s which were as like today's musical theater as anything that existed at the time. In fact, up tempo English language operas had long runs on London stages when Broadway still lay within the British Empire in the mid eighteenth century.

In fact, though America invented the Internet, nobody apart from esoteric academics used the thing until an Englishman invented the Web

Of course, not being British, I think they are generally a pack of whining dickheads, but credit should go where credit is due and pretty much every interesting technology that exists today from the train to the computer was either invented or first utilised by an Englishman or a Scotsman. Americans are great when everybody knows how something should work like airfoils or fission but nobody can quite do it right. British, despite their stuffy ways are really good at starting industrial revolutions and such. The Chinese are another lot like that, inventing paper, gunpowder and making steel, but most of that stuff was a while ago.

Re:Death throes of American culture (1)

ch1a (168446) | about 7 years ago | (#18843701)

What happened to original stories? [...] How do we go from West Side Story, The King and I, and Cabaret to Big, Legally Blonde, and Spiderman?
So all three of those shows are actually adaptations as well:

West Side Story is a retelling of Romeo & Juliet
The King and I is adapted from Landon's "Anna and the King of Siam"
Cabaret is adapted from Van Druten's play "I Am a Camera" and its source material, Isherwood's "The Berlin Stories"

I'm not claiming that Big and Legally Blonde are good shows, but just because a show is adapted from a movie doesn't mean they're bad.

The Full Monty and Thoroughly Modern Mille are some the better new musicals of this decade and just take a look at Spamalot or The Producers.

What happened to character-driven drama?
Also three of the shows you listed are high on the drama side of things. In its early days, musical theatre was the funny, mass-market reflection of opera, which tended to tackle the high-drama stories.

Not until Showboat in 1927 did musicals even get to the business of telling a traditional story and what you'd call 'character-driven drama' probably didn't occur until Carousel in 1945. So the musical theatre you talk about is a fairly new thing. I think that the light, fluffy comedies and the 'character-driven drama' are both valid forms of musical theatre, though both might not to be everybody's preference.

Broadway is mostly run by the media conglomerates nowadays. Flashy, big-budget shows of the 80's like Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera are to blame. They made a huge profit, but also had some artistic merit to their production. Other producers wanted to get the same profit and churned out shows with more and more special effects (Titanic, Beauty and the Beast, Jekyll & Hyde). These shows were produced at outrageous cost and got the public crying for more and more effects, which keeps the smaller players out of the ballgame.

The recent glut of popular movie adaptations is from the commercial success of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King (the latter of which a critical success). This has shown that big-budget Broadway shows are a great way to diversify a media corporation's income.

The type of work you are talking about is a little more underground these days. Look for work by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, Last 5 Years) or Michael John LaChiusa (Hello Again, Wild Party, Bernarda Alba).

The avant-garde musical theater you're talking about is out there, it's just been pushed underground in the past 20 years.

Re:Death throes of American culture (1)

Anomalous Cowbird (539168) | about 7 years ago | (#18844033)

What happened to original stories? What happened to character-driven drama? Did all those starving playwrights and composers actually die off? How do we go from West Side Story, The King and I, and Cabaret to Big, Legally Blonde, and Spiderman?

"Original stories . . . ." Let's see, now:

West Side Story -- Romeo and Juliet

The King and I -- Anna and the King of Siam

Cabaret -- Berlin Stories

Adaptation has been a major part of the theater from its inception. Shakespeare never really came up with an orignial plot; nor, for that matter, did the ancient Greek dramatists. At the moment, I can't think of any of the classic American musicals that were not based on material from another medium.

Which is not to defend this specific work (for all I know, it could be the biggest Spidey-fiasco since the clone saga); but being an adaptation should not necessarily be a strike against it.

Will the effects be as sucky as... (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 7 years ago | (#18840787)

...Mary Martin in Peter Pan?.

I bet viewers thrilled by the exhilarating feeling of watching Spiderman swing hundreds of meters from skyscraper to skyscraper, from a near-first-person point of view in full 35mm definition on a huge cinema screen are going to love watching him hoisted by visible wires from the fly tower, while singing Broadway-pop paeans to adolescent angst.

His Enemy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18840891)

In this week's episode of The Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man takes on the Aging Eco-Hippies. Will Spider-Man defeat the Greenpeace Goblins or will he be forced to walk around barefoot, complain about emissions, and vote for Gore? Tune in to find out!

Re:His Enemy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18844093)

Steve Ditko, is that you?

No: Julie Taymor is bringing Spidey to Stage (2, Insightful)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 7 years ago | (#18840951)

Being that U2 knows jack sh!t about theatrical productions and are only writing the score and lyrics, I don't see why they should be credited for anything more than that.

Julie Taymore is a theatrical genius with many Stage and Film productions under her belt. And she will be the one responsible for bringing the work as a whole to fruition. Her artiistic vision will be driving everyting from costume and set design to cast selection and direction. And yes, she will even have a large say and input into the work that U2 produces for her production.

I don't know if any of you have seen Titus, but I suggest you check that out, since she has a knack for giving her productions a strong artistic signature and I'm certain this wont be any different. Which means that quite a few die hard fans will probably hate it because it will not be literal from canon.

Reality check (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 years ago | (#18841837)

Everybody has heard of U2, very few people know Julie Taymor*. I would even say for every 1,000,000 people that have heard of U2, may 1 has heard of Julie Taymor.

WHy is this important? because plays need money. So when a play goes to people outside it's little community someone that people have heard about is very important.

"And she will be the one responsible for bringing the work as a whole to fruition."
ummmmm... no. It takes many people to bring a broadway play to fruition. You can be the best ring master in the world, but if the elephants decide to go on a rampage, you're screwed.

Well, when I go see a play, I want the story to be tald, not a destruction of Canon. If you can not show srtistic creativity within the bounds of the play, then you're not a good as you think you are.

I wonder if there will be puppets?
Plus the costume in Titus are really out of period, and for a film like that it is an eye sore.

Yes, she is pretty damn good, but people fawning over other people is revolting to me. Exactly the reason I left Hollywood.

*note: her name doesn't have an 'e' at the end.

Quiet show (2, Funny)

Necron69 (35644) | about 7 years ago | (#18841159)

(cue music)

Spiderman: Mfffff!!!!!!!

Director: CUT!!! WTH? Why is his mouth all covered up?

- Necron69

Whats the problem here? (2, Insightful)

Delight-Delirium (415145) | about 7 years ago | (#18841867)

I'm confused, did it become a requirement to poo-poo everything just to comment on /.? Why does this idea suck?

Musicals don't take away cool points from Spidey. And whats wrong with abstract interpretations or existing works? Salvador Dali's L'Enphanta Margarita was brilliant, even though it had already been done. U2 are great musicians, I'd certainly rather listen to them then sleep through Cats! again. Seriously - I do not see what everyone's issue is.

Re:Whats the problem here? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 years ago | (#18841941)

It doesn't suck. The spider-man comics(and most popular comics) have some powerfull themes rapped up in them.
I suspect the people poo pooing this are peope that can't see beyond somesome spider guy beating up some other guy aspect of Spider-Man.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, but there are other appraoches to telling the story of a powerfull outcast.

Not actually the first! (1)

Deadguy2322 (761832) | about 7 years ago | (#18841871)

This is not the first Marvel musical. There was a very short-lived musical based on Captain America in the mid 1970's.

I think it'll go a little something like this... (1)

Bwana Geek (1033040) | about 7 years ago | (#18843743)

Green Goblin threw her from great heights
I couldn't save her, not with all my spider might
Now my darling Gwen is dead
And when there's green before me, all I see is red

Stacey, bloody Stacey
Stacey, bloody Stacey
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