The Broadway shitsplosion Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark finally, finally, officially opened last night, meaning this morning the (new) reviews came in. So where'd all that tweaking and Julie Taymor firing get them? Nowhere good, it seems.
This spring everyone got fed up with the show's producers constantly delaying its opening, so they broke protocol by going ahead and reviewing the show anyway, even though it wasn't officially "Open." So folks have weighed in on this show before. But now that it's been reworked — a new director, a new(ish) script, an almost entirely excised main villain — they've been tasked with revisiting the show and giving it a formal review. And it sounds like things are still pretty shitty.
this singing comic book is no longer the ungodly, indecipherable mess it was in February. It's just a bore.
[The elaborate sets] seem out of proportion to what has become a straightforward children's entertainment with a mildly suspenseful story, two-dimensional characters, unapologetically bad jokes and the kind of melodious rock tunes that those under 12 might be familiar with from listening to their parents' salad-day favorites of the 1980s and '90s. The puppet figures and mask-dominated costumes worn by the supporting villains still seem to have wandered in from a theme park.
In the last year, "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" has gone from artistic oddity to conventional family entertainment. Between that and the strength of its brand name, it's ready to join Madame Tussauds and Shake Shack on a tourist's Times Square itinerary.
The hubris of the process has flowed in many directions, but for all its reliance on mechanistic marvels, the show still lacks what used to be worked out for a musical with a pencil and some paper: a persuasive argument for what Spider-Man has to sing about. Fly around the theater as he might (along with several stuntmen in Spidey costumes), the character is emotionally static. And so even in its incrementally surer form, "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" can't shed the sensation that it would find a more suitable base of operations someplace like Coney Island.
Given how thinly the figures onstage register as characters, there's insufficient suspension of disbelief to make you forget all the visible hardware — cables, harnesses and a noisy winch scraping back and forth across the proscenium – employed to make the flying happen. The promise of technical glitches and perhaps even an accident was part of the morbid fascination that drew huge audiences and obsessive media attention during the production's teething period. Now, the most visceral charge is likely to come from a drop of the Green Goblin's sweat onto the orchestra seats, or a shower of Spider-Man's paper webbing.
[Photo via Getty]