Musings on “Spider-Man”

Plenty of musical theater fans are sending good vibes to the cast, crew and creative team of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” — which recently started previews on Broadway only to be plagued by a series of mishaps and misfortunes.

As a longtime fan of musical theater and other performance art, I’m pausing today to remember the artists and families facing some particularly dark days.

And to share an audience member perspective, so those of you who work musical theater magic on-stage and behind-the-scenes will know what folks like me do and don’t expect when we buy tickets to your shows.

It’s all about the storytelling. If your storyline is compelling and your characters are engaging, we’re happy campers. No circus arts, acrobatics or flying needed. No smoke, mirrors or bungee cords required.

Talented actors, singers and dancers will do the trick. No need for television or movie stars, unless they also happen to be skilled in theater craft. No need for big-name musicians or vocalists, or those with heavy humanitarian street cred.

No need for film or comic book tie-ins. No robots. No clever placement of cell phones or netbooks required. No flashing lights, disarming noises or other features I can power at home if I just acquire enough batteries or voltage.

America was once the imagination nation. But nowadays we’re all about the bells and whistles. And so, to those of you in musical theater, I offer this: Don’t encourage them.

Bigger is not always better. Bolder doesn’t have to mean brighter. Brilliant needn’t be boisterous. Make it shine, but keep it simple.

Consider the case of the Tassimo Brewbot. It’s enough for me that it makes a fab assortment of coffee drinks. I can live without a caffeine robot.

Only those who’ve forgotten the simple pleasures of sipping a strong brew are disappointed to learn that the darn thing can’t do their laundry.

Musical theater, when all is said and done, is a supremely human enterprise.

So no worries if recent events mean we all need to scale it back a bit in terms of superhuman expectations for our performance art.

I still love a good circus, but when I take my seats for a Broadway show — I merely wish to be transported to another place and time. I needn’t get there by space craft or other far-fetched means.

And I surely don’t want artists risking their own lives to take me there.

— Lynn


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