Splat! That’s one of the final images you see as the Green Goblin meets his demise toppling off of the Chrysler Building in the bloated and beleaguered musical Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark which has finally opened after one of the longest preview periods in Broadway history, many mishaps, 70 million dollars spent and the ouster of its original director Julie Taymor. Splat! sums it up precisely.
If I hadn’t seen it for myself I never would have believed what a terrible mess Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark is. From its opening deaf defying ear splitting sound system to its split personality story telling and direction I was continually amazed at what seventy million dollars looks like on stage at the Foxwoods Arena – I mean the Foxwoods Theatre where this Yanni cum Cirque du Soleil musical with a mediocre score by Bono and The Edge – geared to the tourist trade, tweens and teens with lower than average I’Q.s – are devouring this froth-like amusement park ride that just might make you ill like an overdose of cotton candy.
The most striking aspect of the production are the sets by George Tsypin and the opening sequence of Arachne (T.V. Carpio) weaving her web. Next some trademark puppets and masks by Ms. Taymor which fight against the oh-so-seriousness of the piece. Spider-Man, I thought, was supposed to be funny as was “The Spidey-Project” a spoof produced for one free night only back on March 14, 2011 which was brilliant.
The aerial flying sequences come late in the first act right after Peter the geek/dork Parker (Reeve Carney lacking in charisma) has been bitten by a mutant spider and finds himself climbing the walls – with so many visible wires that it takes away any of the mystery of how it is done. Unlike the fabulous dance sequence of Fred Astaire in the film Royal Wedding.
There are some high flying sequences over the audience that are best seen from the mezzanine and balcony – not in the higher priced orchestra seats where you will be straining and craning your neck to see where they have flown off to.
The best is the climatic aerial battle between Peter/Spider-Man and the Green Goblin (an over the top Patrick Page who is the mad scientist Norman Osborn in Act I and who captures the right tone here – only he isn’t doing the flying Collin Baja is) as Peter attempts to save his true love Mary Jane Watson (Jennifer Damiano) that had all the kids cheering their American Idol moment albeit zero chemistry.
What choreography there is by Daniel Ezralow and Chase Brock is repetitive and not very original and of today while the story is set somewhere else – your guess is as good as mine – with references to Face Book and cell phones being used and then old typewriters and newsboys exclaiming, Extra! Extra! – It just doesn’t make for a good mix. A mix conjured up by Taymor, Glen Berger and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Creative Consultant Philip Wm. McKinley.
The parade of the mutant villains with eye popping costumes by Eiko Ishioka will probably televise nicely during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day festivities.
The focus on bullying and the oft repeated “With great power comes great responsibility” resonate very strongly today. I wish the creators of the show had supported those themes in a more meaningful way. I wish the entire cast and crew the best as they have done their best to make Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark work. But even the infusion of twenty million more dollars wouldn’t help make this ill conceived show fly.
www.SpiderManOnBroadway.com Photo: Jacob Cohl
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