Saturday, May 18, 2024

Spider Man Musical: Told Not To, the Critics Review it Anyway


The New York Times, trade papers Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, as well as USA Today and Bloomberg News, all disregarded the set opening date of “Spider Man: Turn off the Dark” and reviewed it tonight.

The opening had been set for tonight after several postponements. The new date was March 15th. But all three publications said enough was enough, and went ahead with reviews.

Only Elyse Gardner in USA Today “got it.” She wrote that “Turn off the Dark” was really an old fashioned musical at heart.

Variety’s review was mixed, at best. Steve Suskin took issue with the “book” or plot, and the musical score.

David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter was less kind. He really lacerated the show.

It’s unclear whether other publications–even the New York tabss–will now follow lead and review “Spider Man.” I can tell you that this ambush was just that, and unexpected. I happened to be with one of the show’s producers, Norton Herrick, at the premiere tonight of a movie he backed called “Vanishing on 7th Street.” (Very creepy, cool, post apocalyptic horror film.) Herrick was gobsmacked when he got the news of the reviews.”That’s not right,” he said. You betcha.

It does seem from the trade reviews that what’s really galled the critics is that “Spider Man” is a hit. It’s the second highest  grossing show on Broadway, right behind “Wicked.” Lately it’s been outselling even “The Lion King.” The reviewers want to make a case that it’s all about curiosity. They think audiences are coming to see a train wreck. Quite the opposite: if the show were so bad, word of mouth would kill it. Honestly, people really like “Spider Man.” And frankly, why not? The sets, costumes, and aerial arrangements are fantastic. Seventy five percent of it works. And by March 15th, when reviewers are really supposed to review it, “Spider Man” should be up around 90%. That’s better than a lot of Broadway shows.

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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