Theater Review - Spiderman


OK! Here is the complete review of Spider Man,Turn Off the Dark, the musical, which has logged in more press than it deserves. I saw the” before” of this show and this is now the “after.” Everyone knows it has broken bones and holds all records in the preview and postponement of opening night departments. Everyone knows that Julie Taymor invented the show, directed it, designed the spectacular masks, spent more money than the national debt, and was finally removed from her job. Even though the public was flocking to it, many critics, who broke all the rules, snuck in and said it was awful, a travesty.

So, the producers, with the famed rock musicians, Bono and The Edge, who had never written a score before, yet composed the so-so score of 19 songs, hired a new director, Philip William McKinley. They shut the show down for three weeks to rewrite, rechoreograph (in the air and on land), and edit it (Glen Berger & Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa) to clarify the many-faceted segments of the script. The public is still flocking, but most of the critics (although President Clinton says it is great), are still not happy with the results. Julie Taymor is now listed as Original Director. The orchestra is now hidden from view.

The entertainment business encompasses all forms, from the lowest to the highest. Spider Man falls somewhere in between. Spider Man is based on a Marvel Comic Book character, written in 1962 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. The first teenage superhero, Spider Man is Peter Parker, a dorky kid played well on stage by Reeve C. Carney. Peter is an orphaned science geek, who lives with his kind Uncle Ben (Ken Marks really creates a character here) and understanding Aunt Amy. Pretty Jennifer Damiano, a sympathetic Mary Jane Wilson, is his neighbor and fellow classmate, who wants to be an actress. She dreams of leaving her drunken, abusive father. Peter, always picked on, dreams of being someone else
When he and his high school class visit mad-scientist Norman Osborne’s lab, Peter is bitten by a bio-engineered spider. If Spider Man is saved by one man it is Patrick Page; he is marvelous as Osborne; it is a shame that he has to be encased in a green Shrek-like costume as the Green Goblin, enemy of the people, but that is a good part of the plot. Later, Uncle Ben’s death upsets Peter, and he decides to devote himself to using his power with responsibility. There’s a little chapter about the myth of Arachne, played by T.V. Caprio. She used to have a bigger part, but they cut it out. I am so happy they kept in the weaving of golden bands as it is so beautiful. George Tsypin’s set design full of perspective, Donald Holder’s wild lighting is spectacular and Eiko Ishioka’s costumes are amazing.
The Book of Mormon, a screaming hit, is written by men who are comic writers. For some reason, they were able to tell a complicated story with the humor and irony that is missing from Spider Man, which takes itself far too seriously. But what about the flying? There are over twenty Ensemble Aerialists who, dressed in red and blue Spider Man Costumes, twirl and leap across the stage, soar all the way to the second balcony and balance precariously while fighting gangsters and the Sinister Six. It is all great fun. Is this a great show? No. However, the message it delivers is fine.

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