Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Spider Man on Broadway, A Week Later: Show Takes Flying Leap Forward


“Spider Man: Turn off the Dark” played its 6th preview yesterday afternoon at the Foxwoods Theater. It’s been a whole week since the first preview. Yesterday’s celebrity in the audience was Michael Moore with his two sisters. They told me they really loved it.

Here’s where things stand: yesterday there were a couple of stops, all due to minor technical issues. A swing got stuck in the first act, and some flying was interrupted by crossed wires.

The audience, which was sold out, was prepared before the curtain went up by producer Jerry Harris. No one seemed to mind. I minded more that no one has proof read the sign outside the theater in which the word ‘performance’ is missing the ‘n’.

Back to the show: the flying sequences do seem more sure now, and no one is harmed. When Spider Man and the Green Goblin fight mid-air over the audience, it’s absolutely thrilling. In Peter Parker’s pas de deux with Arachne (played by understudy America Olivo), the levitation scene is incredible. I also love the opening of the second act with the parade of potential villains for Spider Man. I just wish that they’d treat it as a fun “beauty pageant,” as someone on stage describes it. The heavy metal music is maybe a bit too much. Julie Taymor and company should remember that it’s a comic book. Comic. Also, I rather doubt anyone gets references to Ovid. Maybe the Metamorphosis here should be Kafka. (It was bugging me.)

The show still lacks a power packed awe inspiring ending. I’m told that a new ending is being readied for installation. Let’s hope it includes lots of Spider men flying, and a big number–either a reprise of “Rise Above” or maybe an existing U2 song like “Stay (Faraway And So Close).” (Note: the “American Idiot” encore is a Green Day song, “Time of Your Life.” It’s very cool.)

Indeed, it wouldn’t be wrong to think about adding a couple of U2 songs to the mix. “Mysterious Ways” would be great right after Peter and Mary Jane connect. And “With You or Without You” would be terrific in the second act.

Mostly, what “Spider Man” needs is all fixable long before January 11th. It’s little things. The show is called “Turn off the Dark.” So lighten up. Peter Parker and Mary Jane need some campy romantic stuff. And Peter needs to address Mary Jane by her name when we first meet her. For some reason, he almost never calls her by her name. The Mary Jane character makes an awkward and unheralded entrance that needs to underlined and boldfaced.

But I love, love, love everything with Patrick Page as Norman Osborne aka The Green Goblin, and Michael Mulheren as JJ Jameson. The audience does, too. And I tell you, the audience loves the show. (It is not for kids under 5, however. Please do not bring crying babies to Broadway shows, folks.) They could easily live without all my nitpicking.

All together: big improvements in a short time. That’s just what previews are for.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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