Spider-Man Soars to Create New Ideas!

By Barika Edwards

The Broadway show with the most storied casting, rehearsal and preview period in history, finally opened on June 14, 2011. Will it become a hero story in the American theatre history or remain radioactive?

Spider-Man Turn-off the Dark also being dubbed at Spider-Man 2.0 briefly departed from previews for a complete re-working without director/writer Julie Taymor late winter. What has become the most expensive play in the history of Broadway, with complicated wiring, a new theatre christening and not to forget the serious accident, peevy critics breaking review rules, the soap opera that made everyone in theatre-land giddy with gossip for years may finally be put to rest. Alas it was fun while it lasted but the show must go on. And on it did with the right people holding their breath- the audience. So here we have it, Spider-man 2.0 has webbed his way across the stage and maybe into a few hearts.

Opening with a classical beautiful Julie Taymor-esque visual display of identical looking women weaving yellow fabric to cover the frame; you get the idea that this may be a little more than a musical production that is geared toward that lumbering guy in high school who spoke in comic book vernacular. Using the Greek tale of Archane (who become Peter Parker’s spirit guide) book writers: Julie Taymor, Glen Berger & Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa give a little classical edge to the potential fanboy orgy.

What I liked most about Spider-man was the departure from the standard musical theatre style where the songs tell the plot and dance is more “jazz hands.” Although, this is the Act 1, Act 2, which I imagine is where a lot of the rewrites happened, added a lot of those musical theatre elements back in. There is even a moment where the Green Goblin (Patrick Page) sings cabaret onto of the Chrysler building seemed too me put in to appease Broadway’s grey hairs.

The music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge were beautiful and surprisingly not as U2 sounding. Most of the songs are have their own fingerprint and unfortunately for die hard musical theatre lovers, may find them not stick-in- your head melody. Which I actually liked, especially the haunting music number that were a bit U2.

The puppertry and costumes drew me in, especially its incorporation in dance. Video design finally made sense on Broadway for what you are paying for in theatre tickets and not movie tickets! It’s a huge pet peeve of mine, so many shows incorporate video terribly; while 3LD theatre company can do so much more with brilliant, 3-D video design while having a pinch of a Broadway budget and being way way off-broadway in the cultural ghost town of the FiDi.

Love or hate it?
So who will like this play (backers are hoping a lot, no doubt, for the amount of money laid down), well comic book lover, you non-traditional and traditional theatregoers, children, and even everyday New Yorkers not just tourist. I feel its a rare opportunity to see a show that anyone can enjoy and for once does not cater to one demographic for the most part (too bad for the $$$ for a ticket, although rarely are the best seats in the house in the balcony).

Place in history?
Well I am going to be bold. Theatre benefits from the daring and bold new ideas to make something new out of what others may perceive, as Artsy Fartsy, I mean come on it’s a comic book put to music on Broadway where the audience demographic of money is traditionally not comic book readers. Spider-man also dared to find a balance between spectacle, art and( huge points) experimental theatre! I think most professionals in theatre saw a play that was like magic for them, I can see Spider-man inspiring new innovative theatre professionals who will probably go down the experimental theatre route than the tired old dusty musicals where book and song follow the same futsy formula. My caution is that hopeful it doesn’t start a sort of wild west of who can spend the most money on their musical contest. You can do all of what Spider-man does with so much less (note: 3LD).

And if the play stays open when the new Spiderman film (Andrew Garfield as the masked superhero) comes out next year, I see a resurgence of theatregoers to see it again. Let’s cross fingers Broadway doesn’t revert to sequels.

I usually cringe when another film is adapted to stage, comic books also provoke me the same. However, I throughly enjoyed Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, it has been awhile since I’ve seen a Broadway show that was a good time.