I haven't said very much about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark because I haven't seen the show and I didn't feel like I had anything to add to the debate that hadn't already been said.
But I just read a column about the ethics of professional critics reviewing the musical while it's still in previews and this jumped out at me:
"Broadway audiences know that previews are early glimpses of works in progress, and that is part of their appeal. The audiences for previews are part of the creative process, for how they react to a performance will help decide what stays and what gets cut. The prices they pay for the privilege of being Broadway guinea pigs are fair if they choose to pay them."
Sorry, that holds true for a portion of the audience. But 63 percent of Broadway tickets are purchased by tourists and I bet many of them have no idea when a show is in previews or exactly what that means. For some, Spider-Man may be their first Broadway experience.
In fact, if you go to the Spider-Man web site, it says "Now playing on Broadway." It doesn't say in previews or that the musical is subject to change. I don't think the word "preview" is even mentioned on the web site, so I don't know if it's a "choice" on the ticket-buyer's part or simply not knowing how privileged they are to be attending a preview performance.
And if they are familiar with previews, they may have purchased their ticket thinking it was after the much-delayed opening night, now scheduled for Feb. 7.
I just checked Ticketmaster for a performance in late January, while the show is still in previews, and ticket prices range from $76.50, for the cheapest seat in the balcony, to $289, for a premium seat in the orchestra. If you have a family of four, $306 is a hefty price to pay to be a "guinea pig" for director Julie Taymor and rest of the creative team.
You can debate the appropriateness of professional critics buying a ticket and writing a review before opening night. But please, don't tell me that Broadway audiences fully understand what a preview means, especially when the show's own web site misleads them.
If you want to talk about ethics, let's talk about the ethics of producers who fail to tell the ticket-buying public exactly how much of a rough draft they're spending their money to see and charging them plenty to be part of a work in progress.