This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

19May/12

SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK

SPIDER-MAN flies both high and low on Broadway

Foxwoods Theatre
213 West 42nd St. between Broadway & Eighth Ave.
Tuesday - Sunday through January 4, $77.50 - $157.50
spidermanonbroadway.marvel.com

Forget about all the controversy, the delayed official openings, the injuries to performers from equipment problems, the departure of original director Julie Taymor, and all of the other bizarre elements that made Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark the talk of Broadway for months and months on end. What it all really comes down to is this: Is it any good? And the answer is a resounding: No, it’s not really very good at all. The big-budget musical about a teenage science geek who suddenly becomes a superhero is an overblown spectacle with forgettable music and lyrics by Bono and the Edge, a meandering book by Taymor, Glen Berger, and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and an uncomfortable mix of low-budget DIY staging and high-tech gadgetry. Reeve Carney stars as Peter Parker, a nerdy kid who is bitten by a spider while on a school trip to the lab of cutting-edge scientist Norman Osborn (Drama Desk-nominated Patrick Page). Peter quickly develops special powers that soon find him soaring over the Big Apple, protecting New York City from evil. Like every superhero, he needs an arch villain, who arrives in the form of the Green Goblin (Page), the result of one of Osborn’s experiments gone terribly wrong. As the Green Goblin and his Sinister Six ― Swarm (Drew Heflin), the Lizard (Julius C. Carter), Electro (Maxx Reed), Kraven the Hunter (Emmanuel Brown), Carnage (Adam Roberts), and Swiss Miss (Reed Kelly) ― terrorize the city, Spider-Man must choose between fighting crime or settling down with the love of his life, Mary Jane Watson (Rebecca Faulkenberry). There are some dazzling moments ― director Philip Wm. McKinley and choreographers Daniel Ezralow and Chase Brock do a wonderful job introducing Arachne (Christina Sajous) and her small contingent, who magically descend from above on fabulously flapping fabric inspired by weaving techniques, and an unfolding Chrysler Building is breathtaking ― but most of the scenes are flat and uninspired. Even the justly celebrated flying gets played out and repetitive, and the supposed showstopping act two opener, “A Freak Like Me Needs Company,” in which the Green Goblin introduces his crew of baddies, insultingly breaks down the barrier between performer and audience, a mistake from which it never recovers. Nominated for two Tonys (for Best Scenic Design and Best Costume Design of a Musical), Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which recently welcomed its one millionth visitor, is unable to break free from a tangled web of its own making. (In honor of the show’s two Tony nominations, the first one hundred people with the name Anthony, Tony, Antoinette, Toni, Antonia, or Antonio who come to the Foxwoods Theatre box office on June 4 at 10:00 am will receive a coupon for a pair of free tickets to the Sunday matinee on June 10.)

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