Home Theater Spider Man on Broadway Chugs Along with Talented “B” Team

Sunday’s matinee of “Spider Man: Turn off the Dark” produced no injuries and only one short stop, in the first act.

Otherwise, the well publicized previews of this ambitious musical played to a sold out crowd on Sunday afternoon during the Blizzard of 2010. At the intermission, a couple of people left, saying that the show was more a “spectacle” than a musical. (They may have been time travelers from the 1950s.)

But the rest of the audience happily stayed. They didn’t seem to care that Sunday’s show comprised several “alternates” (don’t call them understudies). One of them was the incredibly talented Matthew James Thomas, who will alternate the lead role of Peter Parker with Reeve Carney. Thomas, who’s been written about as a possible Peter for London, was outstanding in the Second Act (thanks to a time change and the snow, it was a one act day for yours truly catching up with the show). The show’s big number, “Boy Falls from the Sky,” was thrilling on Sunday.

Where Carney has rock star appeal, Thomas is more of the trained theater actor. Carney has the rocker’s demeanor; Thomas is cut out for Broadway in a big way. In the end, fans may want to check out both actors.

There have been a few changes in Act 2, principally the addition of a spider’s web to a major scene. Also, there’s been clarification of the final fight between Spider Man aka Peter and the villainess Arachne, on this day played also by a new alternate, T.V. Carpio, and not America Olivo, who I think filled in for Natalie Mendoza previously.

But due perhaps to the new cast members getting their webs, er, straight, there was noticeably less flying in the second act on Sunday. In the first act, enthusiastic kids told me during the intermission, there had been lots of it, however, including the spectacular performance by Patrick Page as the Green Goblin. And Jennifer Damiano continues to be winning as Mary Jane.

Still to be worked on is the ending of the show. It ends on an ellipsis and not an exclamation point right now. I did wonder how much of the poison doled out by the New York Post on a regular basis is infecting audience reaction even in a small way. (The newspaper that once printed John Lennon’s morgue pictures on its front page is devoted to killing the show.) Still, they throng the merchandise booths in the theater when the show is over, which is a good sign that friends are being encouraged to buy tickets.

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5 replies to this post
  1. Hmmm. Well, I got a good laugh out of your dishing the NY Post. Bitter much? And anyone who’s seen the show recently can tell that it’s still a disaster, and as much as it pains to agree with that Post columnist, in this instance, he’s right. It’s irredeemably awful. Yes, as noted above – all that money, and none for a real writer. Kind of like Cameron on Titanic, but he got away with it.

    Taymor wrote.

    Concur on MJT – I would even venture to say the show is better with him in it. Which isn’t saying much.

  2. So what is wrong with all of these nelly queens having it out for Fab Julie and her high flying adored Spider Circus – huh? I mean, seriously ladies, so what if a few people hit the stage and even die. La Taymor is advancing the art of Broadway – and I’m sure that guy at Bellvue would say that a couple of pins and screws in his body shouldn’t keep this fantastical fantasy to move forward. I’m sure it’s going to be a huge hit on all continents and when the NY Post gets a douche and an enima and gets over themselves, they’ll agree that this show was worth the cost in dollars and bodies to make Broadway theater bigger, better, and more exciting than ever. And if you disagree with me: keep it to yourself!

  3. At the intermission, a couple of people left, saying that the show was more a “spectacle” than a musical. (They may have been time travelers from the 1950s.)

    Those people were like the child who innocently pointed out that the emperor has no clothes. I doubt your ridiculing them will convince them otherwise. Today, gifted artists like Taymor and Bono are creating comic book spectacles to compete with the Broadway masterpieces of Shrek, Addams Family, American Idiot… Michael Bennet and Bob Fosse are spinning in their graves.

  4. “(don’t call them understudies)”

    because they may get more stage time than the main actor

    “(They may have been time travelers from the 1950s.)”

    Ok fine. But doesnt it seem like for $65M they could have afforded a writer to put together a coherent storyline? I can think of at least 5 great screenwriters that we havent seen anything for years from. They cant get a job or a project made. No one wants to pick up a phone and figure out an ending that should have been there from the start? Thats the reason people were surprised about Inception- the story actually made sense.

    Any word on the house being papered? I have heard rumors of blocks of tickets being made quietly available, gratis.

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