The Saga of Spider-Man

Feature

Friday, March 18, 2011

The new Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark finally opened this week ... or actually, not. The producers just fired director Julie Taymor, and previews may be closed for an overhaul. “Those of us who followed Julie Taymor’s career,” says theater critic Jeremy Gerard, “know that she’s a prime example of how limitations make art, not absence of limitations.” With a budget at $70 million and counting, Studio 360's Eric Molinsky looks at how something so grand went so very wrong.

How would you fix Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark?

Leave us a comment and let us know!

    Music Playlist
  1. Spiderman Theme
    Artist: Frenchy
    Album: Bumps & Grinds
    Label: Dionysus Records
    Purchase: Amazon


  2. Spider Man Theme
    Artist: Michael Bublé
    Album: Spider Man Theme
    Label: Reprise / Wea
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Boy Falls from the Sky
    Composer: Bono & Edge
    Album: Music from the Broadway show "Spiderman: Turn off the Dark"

Contributors:

Eric Molinsky

Comments [10]

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Apr. 04 2012 11:19 PM
Danny Fynne from NYC

I think the problem has always been that ever since Julie won the 'GENIUS' award many years ago too many people believe Julie really is one. The fact is she does wonderful face masks and costumes mostly borrowed from the wonderful tradition of shadow puppets from bali.......but on her own she cannot create much of anything. Does anyone remember her Opera a few years back ? .

Apr. 01 2011 05:35 PM
Jacqueline Reeves from Los Angeles

Hoisted by my own petard. Reading all the
snarky reviews (I loved them) and endless
stories of stage disasters, we popped the
$150 per ticket and squeezed into our seats in a fully sold out show. We live in Los Angeles each Broadway trip is special. It was worse that the reviews, horrible. This is the first time in my over 50 years of attending New York theater I was empty. It was too lame to even hate.

Mar. 26 2011 05:06 PM
Hannah from New York City

There are so many problems with the Spider-man musical one barely knows where to begin. First, one has to realize there is a huge problem if there are people like me, who bought tickets for the original set of previews, knowing it was going to be bad and looking forward to watching the disaster. When your audience is not there to see art, but to see injury, something clearly has to change.

Arachne is the biggest plot issue. She needs to go completely. She is unnecessary and confusing. Next, there should only be one villain, not seven or eight, and the story should be about fighting and defeating that villain.

The music is an issue as well, since there is very little actually written in the key of the singer. I'm sure Bono could sing them all, but as is, these singers don't sound strong. Some of them are wonderful singers, as is proven by their previous work, but you would never know with this show.

Though Julie Taymor is gone, the scene where Peter Parker and Arachne have mid-air sex...maybe....something, needs to go whether Arachne does or not. It is a direct ripoff of the Lion King when it was first staged in the New Amsterdam theater. It is exactly like the mid-air dance done during "Can You Feel the Love Tonight."

And lastly, use the source material. Even people who never read the comics know Uncle Ben wasn't hit by a car. It's just a ridiculous change and bothers people. And pick a decade. Any decade. Just not the six that currently exist in Peter Parker's world.

When watching this show, you can just see the money bleeding out from every pore. It's sad to see such a beautiful theater go to waste.

Mar. 24 2011 12:15 AM
David Nields

I saw the show last weekend, and at intermission I thought "What is everyone talking about? This show is great!" Then, of course, Act II began.
I disagree with some about the Geek Chorus. Granted, there was a little too much explaining, rather than demonstrating, but I thought the concept was strong. I don't even object to the Arachne character, just to the realization of that character. She wants to marry Spiderman? What? She doesn't even exist in this universe and everything she's created is an illusion? Wha? She shuts down the internet and creates her own world wide web? (I get it. She's a spider. She's created a techno web. Ha ha).

If I were revamping the act, I'd start Act II with Arachne, and bring her into the real world. She has to offer Spiderman a choice. There has to be some reason that he's torn between MJ and Arachne (right now the choice seems to be about the number of shows one of them can wear). Spiderman can't just be busy ("Gosh! Being a superhero sure does keep me busy! I can't have any fun"). He has to face a very real choice; he has to experience a real conflict. And, I think, they need to rework a couple of the Act II songs too. (Sorry Edge and Bono, I love ya, but it gets a little drippy in Act II. And the rasta drummer is really not doing it for me).
One final note, one of the things I loved about Act I was how THEATRICAL it was. In Act II, there was a loooong video section. I'm not at the movies; I'm at the theatre!

Julie, I've been a fan of yours long before the Lion King, and I believe in you, and your work. Act I was truly exciting, and inspiring. The rest of the show can be too.

Mar. 22 2011 03:26 PM
Leila Gordon from Washington DC

Act 1 is the stronger and more recognizable and coherent of the two acts. The Greek Chorus is unneeded. If the producers can't get rid of Act 2 in its entirety, they could make 2 shows and perform them on alternating nights. The music lacks variety at any level: melodies, orchestrations (too loud and uniform in pitch), rhythms (only 2--rock and slow). Loved the film projections in Act 2 of the villains; that could be incorporated in the revised show. Also, there are some very weird anachronisms in the show; (the forties newsroom of the paper, but a more "present day" feel to the costumes and characters) there does not seem to be a unified time/place (even accounting for the fact that the whole premise is fantastical, the show still needs some kind of internal logic and attachment to our familiarity with an era and the place of NYC.) It is too bad about the Arachne myth and dances; some of those elements are among the most beautiful in the show.

Mar. 21 2011 03:43 PM
Brian from Bethesda, MD

I could not agree more that the second act was a pure disaster. What was with Arache and the shoes? That was senseless. I actually think what they have is somewhat salvageable. Here are my thoughts:

1. Get rid of the Arache character. She is not part of the Spider-Man lore, ill-developed and not a threat.
2. Get rid of the Greek chorus kids. WE DON'T NEED THEM. They add nothing to the show. We're intelligent. We can figure it out.
3. Eject the whole second act. Why are all the cool stunts in the first act with virtually nothing in the second act? We don't need tender moments of Peter and Mary Jane on the fire escape waxing poetic. We need action!
4. Make the origin a quick montage-like sequence. Come on, we all know the story. We don't need to see it again.
5. End the first act with an operatic, shocking act perpetrated by the Goblin. Keep the audience interested in staying and watching. Make the act so shocking that Peter questions his actions and heroism as part of the second act.
6. Every comic ends with the "boss fight" in which our hero battles the main villain. In the current version, the boss fight takes place at the end of the first act. Move that to the end of the show. Heighten the suspense. Drag it out a little longer. How did the Goblin capture Spider-Man. How did they end up on top of the Chrysler building?

I don't think fixing it is that difficult. The new director can do well to just move some things around.

Mar. 20 2011 07:31 PM
rawbylaw from gotham or thereabouts

(3) fatal moment in the show's creation:
(1)The moment it was decided the goddess anrachne would be onstage 100 times longer than uncle ben, was the moment the show was doomed.
(2)The moment that never came, when someone should have shouted, hey this thing takes place in NEW YORK FRACKIN CITY!! It's spoused to have some errr HUMOR IN IT!!, was the moment the show was done for.
(3) The moment it was decided, in an effort to compensate for items (1) and (2) to have 4 nebish teenage, want to be comic book writers, serve as the tired dramatic cliche of puting it all into "context".
When you need a device of 4 teenagers, who dress, act and speak nothing like any recognizable teenager on the planet, let alone New York City, in order to put into context, a show whose main character is a global cultral icon, a unfailing recognizable and popular comic book characters of the last 60 years, the subject of 3 major motion pictures and a tv cartoon series, one the most beloved and enduring dramatic figures of the modern world, when, one feels to need to put that into context, with 4 teenage feebs or by putting into the playbill some incoherent, new age, mush about the goddess arachne, well folks, youse are in trouble and how.

Mar. 20 2011 01:05 PM
Richard Daniels from New York City

I happened to see Spiderman the night of the awful cast-member accident. I saw the show with two other people with a lot of theater credentials. We all felt the same -- music was boring, story was lame, special effects were wonderful. Many have voiced the same comments. Perhaps Bono & the Edge are the ones who should have been fired, but it seems they are calling the shots. They seem to lack any grasp of musical theater scoring. All the music seemed to be the same, same tempo, same pace, same urgency. Utterly lacking in subtlety, let alone variation. Maybe we should stop talking about this show and look at what else is coming to the stage that is worthy of being seen.

Mar. 20 2011 11:31 AM
Seth Christenfeld from Slightly North of NYC

Shut it down and use the money to fund ten other shows of reasonable size and some degree of artistic quality.

Mar. 18 2011 03:12 PM

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