A behind-the-curtain superhero kept Broadway’s biggest fiasco from flopping
- Last Updated: 12:29 AM, June 12, 2012
- Posted: 9:51 PM, June 9, 2012
Today, “Spider-Man” has added an extra performance. The first 100 people named Tony — or any variation thereof — to arrive at the Foxwoods Theatre at 10 a.m. will get two free tickets to the 3 p.m. matinee.
Rick’s line: “We’re going to have more Tonys on Tony Sunday than any other show on Broadway!”
When all hell was breaking loose at the production last year — injuries, technical foul-ups, canceled performances, ballooning costs — Rick remained unflappable. Fielding phone calls from reporters in the middle of the night about yet another cast injury, he’d say, “Oh, Mary, here we go again! I’m moving my office to Bellevue!”
Last June, the night the show re-opened after an overhaul, I ran into Rick and his team in Times Square. They were carrying flowers to present to the cast and Julie Taymor at the curtain call. (Taymor had been fired a couple of months earlier but decided to attend the opening in support of her actors.)
Rick and I thought it would be a kick if I were one of the “flower boys.” So he handed me a bouquet and I went down to the lip of the stage and passed out flowers to Taymor and the cast. Patrick Page (Green Goblin) and Michael Mulheren (J. Jonah Jameson) burst out laughing when they saw me.
The intense press coverage of “Spider-Man” helped keep the show on the boards. Before performances began in November 2010, advance sales were weak. But once people started getting injured, the box office exploded. People wanted to see Spider-Men tumble into the pit. It became Broadway’s version of NASCAR.
“Spider-Man” wound up on the cover of New York magazine and The New Yorker. Its problems were chronicled in newspapers around the world and every media personality from Don Imus to Stephen Colbert, Lesley Stahl to Whoopi Goldberg weighed in.
The critics killed “Spider-Man” in all its incarnations. But that didn’t matter. The prime audience for the show — international tourists — has never heard of Ben Brantley of the Times or Elisabeth Vincentelli of The Post.
“Spider-Man” is a gold-plated title and the producers, aided by Miramontez and his team, have persuaded the public that its special effects are as thrilling as anything in Cirque du Soleil.
And so “Spider-Man” endures. Will it make money?
Not on Broadway. It may gross $1.3 million a week but that just about covers its weekly overhead. It’s hard to see how the investors will ever get back their $85 million in New York.
But the longer the show runs here, the more in demand it will be in other markets.
And that’s the plan: license productions in huge arenas all over the world.
It just might work, as long as each production studies the Miramontez press strategy that spins dross into gold.
I have a feeling Rick’s about to rack up a lot of frequent flyer miles.
The Tony Awards air tonight at 8 p.m. on CBS.