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Shaun the Sheep or Shakespeare?

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With Spiderman hogging the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the U.S, it is really tempting to criticise movie to stage adaptations for being borrowed and not highly original. Then as we watch the car crash that is Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, we can state the lines: "Told you so."

But, if you look at music, film and theatre and literature - haven't we always adapted, borrowed and tweaked what we already have? Lady Gaga is a great example, as she is clearly influenced by Madonna. Madge, likewise is clearly influenced by both Debbie Harry and Marilyn Monroe.

With Ghost the musical on the way to Manchester, Marti Pellow about to take on the dual roles of Jekyl and Hyde, Michael Jackson tribute show Thriller Live! in Liverpool next month and Shaun the Sheep about to thrill families in the northwest, is this a bad thing?

Well, familiarity sells tickets. You only need to look at cinema listings for proof of this. See how many animated 3D movies are being lined up for release this year. There isn't a month gone by when there isn't another film featuring a talking animal ready to grab your kid's pocket money.

But, theatre like every other art form has enough variety to please all. True, the arrival of the jukebox musical means there isn't much originality left anymore. But with shows like Love Story (admittedly based on a book, rather then soley the film itself) not really proving to be a musical with legs, the audience clearly want to see something that meets their expectations in a recession.

The problem of course is that with so much of our regional arts being cut, the sure fire shows will remain but anything edgy and thought provoking will end up being lost in the mix.

As a punter, how can you help? Do what I do - see a mixture of fringe theatre and popular shows to ensure that these smaller productions do not disappear completely.


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