Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark Review

(We have another Guest Blogger in line! Thanks to V.j. for this review of the Spider-Man Broadway play – playing preview shows now and officially opening in February! For those with tickets in hand – this review is SUPER detailed and contains a plethora of plot points. Consider yourself warned! His insider info is really interesting, and includes information about the set design, actors and glitches that occurred during his viewing. Enjoy!)

By V.j.:

This Spider-Man worshipper finally got to see the Broadway play Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark on the first day of the new year. I’ll have to admit, when it was first announced years ago I was apprehensive about this and even making fun of the possibility. As the date got closer, and more was revealed about the production, I was looking forward to it. Then I saw the 60 Minutes segment it was featured on and I was sold immediately. I was a nervous wreck thinking my show would get cancelled with injuries to performers and technical glitches. Hell, just to make this play get off the ground cost $65 million dollars with a $1 million dollar week upkeep. But New Years Day came and my show was still a go.

The show was held at the Foxwood Theatre – the only theatre a large enough to hold the production. It even had to go through a major renovation just to accommodate the moving set pieces. The producer came out to introduce the show, letting us know that all stunts were approved by the labor department and if a glitch occurred, the stage manager would stop the production (which he did twice).

The show begins on a bridge with Mary Jane (played by Jennifer Damiano) hanging by a rope and Spider-Man running to save her. A set piece drawing of the Green Goblin comes out cutting the rope and Mary Jane is falling off the bridge. (The scene had to be re-written, as Spider-Man was supposed to jump off the bridge to save her. A stunt performer got seriously injured when his harness snapped and the scene was re-done so that the stunt man never jumps off the bridge.)

The show then brings us to the beginning with four comic geeks telling their Spider-Man tale. One of the geeks (Matt Devine, singer of the emo-rock band Kill Hannah) tells how a Greek myth of Arachne interwined with Spider-Man. The show begins in High School as Peter Parker (played by Reeve Carney) is giving his report on Arachne. As the scene continued, the first musical number of “Bullying by Numbers” began as Peter was getting bullied by Flash Thompson and his friends.

As the show progresses, Peter is walking home from school with Mary Jane. What was cool about this scene were the set pieces. The two actors were walking on a treadmill with the sets of houses changing in the back to show they were walking from one neighborhood to the other. Another song occurred and during a break in the song, to what I believe was called “No More”, the stage manager came on the horn to pause the show for a set malfunction. (One of the moving houses didn’t close properly). It was the third song and this malfunction stopped the show for five minutes, bringing the curtain down. When the show began it was the same set pieces, but Peter and MJ were in the homes.

The next scene we see Norman Osbourne and his wife Emily for the first time in his lab. Osbourne is showing his experiments and how excited he is for his project and how much pressure he is under to succeed. This scene is very similar to the movie in how Peter got bitten by the Spider. When Peter returns home and discovers his powers, Peter then goes into the number “Bouncing off the Walls” (My favorite in the show with Carney in the harness jumping from wall to wall and off the ceiling). I loved how the number was done. The four comic geeks came out to narrate the story suggesting the spider that bit him choose him because of Arachne (played by T.V. Carpio) When the story continued, Peter sees Flash on a date with MJ taking her for a ride in his car.

And let the wrestling scene begin. As a giant blow up doll of Bonesaw McGraw comes out, Peter enters in a ski mask and sweatshirt. I didnt like how the scene that would make Spider-Man who he was drastically changed. Peter didn’t stop a burglar; instead it was changed to a man carjacking Flash’s car off stage with Peter not stopping it before it mowed down Uncle Ben. As the scene ends, Arachne comes out sings a little and drops the infamous Spidey costume for Peter to wear. And out comes Spider-Man swinging into the audience landing on a couple of platforms in the balconies.

During the musical number, the scene was showing Spidey helping citizens swinging around, the stuntman missed his mark onstage causing the computer to stop the sequence and halt the show. The dancers in mask and costumes entertained the crowd by doing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” dance. It was a nice moment of levity. The show continued with Norman Osbourne angry that Spider-Man was created by one of his Spiders and under pressure from the military, Norman becomes the Green Goblin filled with rage that his wife was killed in the accident that made him the Goblin. Patrick Page plays the Goblin/Osbourne brilliantly for a Broadway show and at times steals the scene. Soon after, we see the Daily Bugle set and J. Jonah James (Micheal Mulheren) on his Spidey rant and how he is a menace and wants pictures of him.

Eventually, you see a cool aerial fight between Goblin and Spidey and, like in the movie, Goblin knocks Spidey out and brings him to the Chrysler Building. Goblin wants a partnership like father and son. (This will also be the only time you see Reeve Carney in the Spidey costume, minus the mask) Spidey says no, of course. Act one ends with Goblin playing a prop piano (all props in the play were purposely made to look cartoonish like a comic book) singing “I’ll take Manhattan by Storm.” And Patrick Page does it so well, making the audience laugh.

Act 2:  The four geeks come out discussing who Spidey’s greatest villian was and they come up with six, which are then introduced in a silly “Ugly pageant.” Carnage, Kraven, The Lizard, Electro, Swarm, and then the made-for-play character “Swiss Miss” (picture a female Silver Surfer with spinning blades) all enter the stage.

Peter starts having trouble with his dual identity and decides to quit being Spidey. Arachne doesn’t like this as she chose Peter to be bitten by the Spider. She makes the Sinister Six and Goblin run rampant through the world. They cause a black out in NYC leaving it dark. This all happens off-stage, as giant screens display the Sinister Six terrorize with Goblin making viral videos. This is really the only time you see Goblin as now he takes a back seat to the Arachne storyline, who haunts Peter in his dreams, taking his powers away. She makes you believe she was behind the black out and Osbourne taking MJ.

Peter becomes Spidey again and Reeve Carney dons a costume of a red shirt with a Spidey emblem (which they sell for $40) and a leather jacket with the Spidey pattern airbrushed on it, as a way to show that Peter is wearing the actual costume. A stunt man in full costume is in the back shadowing Carney’s moves. Spidey saves MJ from the bridge scene (which was very confusing by the way as the catch was made off-stage) and soon the play was over.

The second act was horrible compared to the first. They spent so much time on Peter and Osbourne in the first act that when the second started, the Osbourne story ends without warning as Arachne’s confusing story takes over. The ending needs to be re-done and the Osbournes needs a bigger scene in the second act as he was mainly reduced to viral videos. Patrick Page’s performance of Norman Osbourne/Green Goblin was the best in the show. Reeve Carney as Peter plays a perfect nerd and has a hidden rock voice. Jennifer Damiano has a beautiful voice; every time she sang I felt like I was watching a Disney musical (that’s a compliment) and T.V. Carpio, who takes over the role of Arachne, has a great voice, but the character she was given (an evil version of Madame Webb for you comic fans) just confused the audience. Almost every time she was on stage, it was in a dream sequence of Peter’s. And only once do you see her in the real world.

I’ll see it again in a heartbeat, but like I said, the second act sucked and needs to be re-written, making Arachne a secondary villain to Goblin like she was in the first act. The set pieces were great–all cartoon props using the inclines of the stage to create perspective. A majority of the cast came from director Julie Taymor’s Beatle movie Across the Universe and her love of the The Beatles was hinted in the play as the name of Oscorp’s main competition was called the “Let It Be Corp.” And those curious, I bought two souvenir shirts and a cap for a grand total of $110. Bono and Edge had some cool songs, but they were all in the first act. A lot of the second act’s songs were slow and dreary and made to show off the actors’ vocal talents.

Catch ya on the flipside baby.


3 Responses to “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark Review”

  1. […] Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark Review « The Littlest Winslow […]

  2. I saw this in March and loved it. Best parts were the sets, projections on the sets and the flying! Flying!

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