Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Reviews Are In

And they ain't pretty. 

On what was supposed to have been the opening day of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, now postponed until March 15th and still in previews since November, national theatre critics could no longer hold their tongues and let the vitriol spill toward this ill-conceived (if not downright stupid) musical.

Most vicious was Ben Brantly at the New York Times (full review here) who said the show is "...so grievously broken in every aspect that it is beyond repair." And "...only when things go wrong in this production does it remotely feel right - if, by right, one means entertaining." Yikes!

Less nasty, but equally disdainful, Charles McNulty of the L.A. Times said "Incoherence isn't much fun to sit through." He also says the show's failure "...rests squarely on Taymor's run-amok direction." McNulty's full review is here. Meanwhile, Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune writes that show's woes boil down to "...an incoherent story." Jones seems to genuinely want to like the show in his review, but just can't. Peter Marks in The Washington Post laments "...the creature that most often spreads its wings at the Foxwoods (Theatre) is a Turkey" and that "...its more appropriate home might be off a highway in Orlando." (Ouch!)

Personally, I've said from the first moment I heard about the show that it was destined for failure. And while I may delight in a sense of schadenfreude (a word I've been using a lot, lately), I can't help but feel bad for the hardworking cast and crew of Spider-Man. I know from personal experience how tough it can be to put a show a together. But I also know that without a story to hold the audience's interest and without characters to whom they can relate, no amount of spectacle can save a bad show. I'll admit, Taymor's visuals are unparalleled and when they work (as in The Lion King and Titus) they do so beautifully.Of course, the crtics are also faulting the mostly forgettable score by U2's Bono and The Edge, citing only a few numbers as worthy of a Broadway musical, while being exceptionally kind to the cast who seem to be struggling against almost insurmountable technical, musical and scriptural issues. Honestly, I feel really badly for the poor schlubs who are contractually obligated to appear in this disaster night after night. It can't be much fun, knowing you're in the worst Broadway musical since Carrie. Sadly, all fault with the show seems to lie with Taymor and her insane vision, a lesson future backers will certainly have in mind when she proposes her next Broadway debacle.

Hopefully, this will be my final rant about this particular show. I'm also hoping that the upcoming production of the Australian import Priscilla: Queen of the Desert will outshine and eventually overshadow Spider-Man by its sheer fabulousness alone (and can guarantee it will be the show I'm willing to shill $100+ to see over Taymor's monstrosity). 

Still, I will somehow sleep easier knowing that I was right all along, and that superheroes have no serious place on the Broadway stage... Just ask the producers of It's a Bird... It's a Plane...

More, anon.


Mrs. Pine said...

aw, can we got to see Priscilla together?? we need to go to Bway together!! and word to Spidey, awful. hope no one gets hurt again!!

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Prospero said...

Just so everyone knows, Michael is a friend who very much wanted to see "Spider-Man," and he wrote the sam ething on my Facebook page when I posted a link to this post.