spider-man: the musicalI don’t want to pour more scorn on the much-derided Spider-man: The Musical, enough of that has been done by commentators and citizen reviewers across New York, the US and, increasingly, the world. I make no comment on its artistic merit; I’ve not seen it and therefore am in no position to judge.

I did, however, see a lesson for all artists and creatives in the development and re-development of the show following this piece in the New York Post this week. The key phrase for me:

[Phil] McKinley’s going to turn the show into a shorter, special-effects-driven family spectacle more suited to the world of Steve Wynn than Steve Sondheim.

Michael Riedel, nypost.com

For me, if you’re creating a musical from a comic book, the tone and the feel of the show needs to reflect that of the book itself. The same holds true for making movies and TV shows of comic books, too.  What I don’t understand about Spidey is why have a short, special-effects-driven family show is a change of direction – that’s exactly the sort of show it should have been in the first place.

As any social media and marketing expert will tell you, knowing your audience is key. And the audience for Spider-man: The Musical surely wants to see something breath-takingly spectacular with a simple, familiar storyline that they don’t have to concentrate on too much.  From the reports abounding on the ‘net, that’s not what they’ve got.

Knowing your audience and knowing exactly what it is you’re making is crucial to the artistic and commercial success of any artistic project. Even for little indies who don’t want to think about “commerce” and “business”1, it’s vital to understand who is going to consume your eventual product, even if they’re not paying for it.

What else would you want from a Broadway/West End show based on a comic book? I can’t think of anything other than good fun and spectacle. It’s the old K.I.S.S. message: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

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  1. as misguided as that is []