Thursday, April 18, 2024

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.

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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