Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark

So it is the review that most of you have been curious about, to our 5's of fans I hope you enjoy what we have to say.

Carlos' Review:
Spider-man: Turn off the Dark
Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
8:00ish PM

I guess I should begin with that my review will most likely be very short I am going to hand a majority of this review over to Rhett. He basically says everything thing that I wanted to say, and then some, and my review are mostly observations on the experience itself.

I was laying bed last Monday night, when I received a phone call from Rhett, which is a shocker, the man never rarely calls you on the phone with him it’s mostly a text thing. First thing I say to him when I answer is “Who’s dead?” “No one, want to go and see Spider-Man on Wednesday?” “Hell yes!” I respond. This was his Hanukkah/ Christmas present to me, who could ask for a better gift than that of a Broadway Show.

I am excited as I finish up work and make my way down to the newly renovated Foxwoods Theater. I have to say they did a bang up job on the refurbishments; it is a beautiful show piece for 42nd street. As I approached the theater I could already see a mob forming around the corner and with two haphazard lines forming and people jostling to get in, I felt like I was at the 5th race at Aqueduct. As we push our way in and saddle up to the bar for an $18.00 drink (thank you Rhett). We take our seats and I immediately notice a 6 year old in a Spider-man pajamas, in front of us, and I behind me a 7 year old with his mother. Now I am all for introducing children to the Theater, but for show’s like Mary Poppins, Elf, Imagin-Ocean (see prior review) but not Spider-man. As the lights dimmed and the overture began, the curtain goes up and behind me I still here this child talking with his mother and not in hushed tones. I turn around and shush the lady and she’s tells me in a very loud tone “That was rude, you’re an asshole!” I said to her “nice language to use in front of your child” I turn around and proceed to try and enjoy this first night of Hanukkah, and time with my friend.

Ok, (deep breath in) Spider-man: Turn off the dark, wow what an Epic fail, I was all excited for this show and was hoping for the best, even though a little of me wanted it to bad. I was not disappointed, with Music and Lyrics by Bono and the Edge you would think, great a cool rock style musical along the lines of The Who’s Tommy, or American Idiot, and with Julie Taymor writing the book and dircting this show you would think what a cool visual treat it will be. WRONG!!!!! Visual it was but that alone couldn’t carry the show.

I have seen my fair share of Broadway, off Broadway, regional, and Summer Stock Theater, some good, some bad, and some WTF, I left in tears at the travesty that was The Tale of Two Cities: the Musical. I give everything I see a fair chance to win we over and I am all for a vague and confusing plot i.e. Elmer Gantry the musical at the La Jolla Playhouse 1991, Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real, and most recently A Catered Affair, but at least these shows had some sort of story arc, and in the case of the music and lyrics, Bono and the Edge really should have seen a few more musicals or at least read some more scores to get a better idea of what works and doesn’t. The music isn’t bad, and the lyrics of the songs work to an extent, but not in the context of this story they are trying tell. I walked out not humming a song from this show but singing Populism yeah yeah from Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson. I am thinking that American Psycho: The Musical would be much better than this, at least Duncan Sheik already has a Broadway Musical under his belt. I really think that this would have worked better as a concept album, sort of like The Who’s Quadrophenia, or Elton John’s Aida. But with almost two different storylines between the first and second act I found myself asking what’s going on. I hope Ms. Taymor’s take on Shakespeare’s the Tempest is a much better project than this. I feel that this whole thing was way too rushed to hit Broadway, and realy should have taken more time to iron out the glitches, but I also understand they are in previews and this is the time to work out issues. The one thing I have to touch on is that prior to the curtain going up the Co-Producer comes out on stage and thanks us for showing up and said that since they didn’t have a theater to have an out of town try out in, for us to bear with them as they work things out, but that was a cop-out, this show could have used a Vegas Venue or Universal Studios Venue, that has the space and the technical crew to handle a show of this magnitude

The technical aspects of the show were cool to say the least, the flying over the audience, and the LED screens were amazing, but it just seemed so thrown together without any continuity. I have to give major props to the Ensemble of this show given with what they are working with and without; they pulled it together and delivered a show. Albeit a bad one and that is not their fault. As you will read Rhett gets into the nuts and bots of the show, and I say this go and see and judge for yourself. It’s a spectacle, and it’s something you can always take with you and be able to say I saw a 65 million dollar flop.

On a scale of Top, Bottom, or Versatile. I give this show an Arrogant Bottom, one who thinks he’s the hottest thing on Manhunt but is a dud in bed.

See you on the Boards

Take it away Rhett!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rhett's Review:
Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark
Wednesday, Dec.1st, 2010
8:00ish PM

Here it is kids!...the review you've all been waiting for! Spider-man the Musical has arrived on the Great White Way, and your Broadway Bitches Rhett and Carlos were first on the scene to get you the dirt on the most expensive show in Broadway History! (And boy is there some Dirt to Dish!

So Carlos and I thought we were being smart in arriving at the newly named Foxwoods Theater an hour early to pick up our tickets, and avoid the rush. WRONG! 7:05pm, half a block from the theater, I saw a huge Motley Crew of Gamers and Sci-Fi Geeks in their Spider-man garb flooding the streets waiting to get in.

Finally grabbing our tix, we each grabbed an $18 COCKTAIL! from the bar (good thing I snuck in a flask to replenish mine!, and we took our seats.
Just to be clear, the show has just started its previews, we saw the 2nd performance EVER, and it's not officially opening until January 11th.
At 8:04pm, one of the producers, Michael Cohl, took the stage. "We're only 4 minutes late tonight! You guys are definitely the best audience we've had so far!"

By now most of you have heard the horror stories about the 1st preview performance: The show started a half an hour late, it stopped dead 5 times for technical problems, including one 20 minute pause that was perforated by a woman in the audience screaming, "I feel like a Guinea Pig!...It's like a dress rehearsal!", and numerous other glitches.

Surprisingly most of those glitches were fixed by the 2nd performance, only stopping once for 5 minutes at 8:55pm to retrieve one of the aerialists who plays Spider-man, when he flew across the stage but didn't quite make it to his landing pad in the wings.

That being said, there were still a lot of problems: at least a half a dozen times stagehands in jeans and sweatshirts ran onstage in the middle of a scene, or even in the middle of a Ballad!, to unhook a wire, or manually close a trap door onstage. When Spiderman, played by Broadway newcomer Reeve Carney, with nice rock vocals and a certain amount of charm, but NO real theater/acting ability, and such bad enunciation we wondered exactly HOW MANY marbles were in his mouth!?, rescued Mary Jane for the 1st time she couldn't get herself unhooked from him and delivered 5 or 6 lines of dialogue into his neck while she tried to break free. Just before the Act 1 finale, Spidey defeats his nemesis, The Green Goblin, by pushing him off the top of the Chrysler building and crushing him with a piano. But Patrick Page, who plays the Goblin, A.K.A Dr. Norman Osborne, lay on the stage awaiting his impending doom, looking up at where a piano was SUPPOSED to fall, but after 15-20 seconds, a small piece of the piano jutted out from the catwalk over the stage and never fell. The Goblin eventually just "pretended" to get crushed as a tether attached to his back dragged him upstage into the darkness!

While these significant issues were annoying, they weren't the real problem. The biggest problem here is the show itself!: Music that doesn't fit the story, Lyrics that are unintelligible and don't propel any character development, and a Book that's barely existent, and what does exist is juvenile, uninspired, and confusing!.

The show starts with the curtain opening on a giant bridge, a damsel in distress dangling in midair, and our hero, in his familiar Spidey suit, running in SlowMo to save her, every person in the audience is immediately captivated by the promise of a beautiful and thrilling love story about to be retold in a new, spectacular, and epic way.
WRONG again!

A Greek Chorus of nerds, known as 'The Geek Chorus', tells the tale of our mild-mannered boy turned superhero by referring back to the worlds 1st Spider-man, Spider-Woman, actually. Arachne is the well known character from Greek mythology, who was a better weaving artisan than the Goddess Athena, and was punished by being turned into a spider: forever weaving her beautiful tapestries, but cursed with 8 legs, and forced to live in darkness. In an odd twist Arachne now lives in solitary immortality, appearing in the present, in Queens, NY no less, to torment Spidey's dreams, and ultimately challenges him as his greatest Nemesis.

There is no rhyme or reason to this or to a lot of other very important and confusing plot points in the show. What the hell is Dr. Osborne working on, and why does a Dr. from Queens have a southern drawl, and why does he hate Spidey so much? No reason is ever given. Why does Mary Jane ever fall for Peter Parker? I Don’t Know!? And most importantly, we are shown that when Peter throws away his Spidey suit, he loses his powers, but wasn't he 'injected' with those powers by a radioactive mutant spider? And if he "throws away" his powers, how does he then defeat the 'Sinister Six' villains that join the, supposedly dead, Green Goblin to attack him?!

Ugh! many questions, and confusing twists, that aren't even interesting, they just seem to exist to lend reason to another fight sequence; or they are used as an excuse to bring out 6 GIANT floor to ceiling LED video screens, which broadcast thrilling footage of our Villains in action, but they clash in juxtaposition to the rest of the 2 dimensional black and white sketched 'comic book' inspired set.

I also want it to be known that this is NOT a show for young children! The signs in the theater and on the website clearly say "suitable for children 8 years and up". Even that may be a stretch but there's NO reason why Carlos and I should have been surrounded by 4 and 5 year olds crying, whimpering, and constantly asking, "Who dat? Wha happened?" Although I did ask those same questions a few times myself! Carlos almost bitch-slapped 1 obnoxious mother, whose toddler was kicking and talking. "Seriously!?" he asked the mom. "Shut up Asshole!" was what she considered a suitable response in front of her young child...Ugh. I weep for the future!

My Pet Peeves? Scene 2: early evening in Queens and Peter is walking home from another day of being bullied at school. Ok. But why devote ANY of the 65million dollars to a little, insignificant 2x2 foot wide rotating treadmill, just so we can see Peter actually walking in place!? WTF!? And then, a small ridiculous Lionel Train set pops up to resemble the NYC subway, but on this elaborate stage, it just sticks out as a silly toy!
Oh, and speaking of 'silly toy's: in the last scene of Act 1, Spider-man shoots a web up to a skyscraper to escape, and we are taunted with a tiny action figure Spidey on a string slowly rising up to a cardboard building!? Does anyone remember the Act 1 finale of Titanic the Musical?...yeah, it was just as cheesy as that little toy boat sinking!
I digress, and remind you all that THIS ISN'T EVEN THE REAL PROBLEM!!! IT'S JUST A BAD SHOW!

Probably the most upsetting thing is the amount of talent squandered on this stage.
The character of Mary Jane, played so brilliantly, but to no avail, by 'Next to Normal' Tony Nominee Jennifer Damiano, is never given much to work with. Her big 11 O'clock number "If The World Should End" is actually a really beautiful musical theater love ballad, and Damiano, of course, knocks it out of the park. BUT, it doesn't fit into a show full of songs that have no theatrical depth, character development, or even coherent lyrics! To pour salt on the wound, immediately after Damiano's "moment" we are relegated to Reeve Carney's big number "The Boy Falls from the Sky", with no time to absorb or appreciate the emotion that Damiano just worked so hard to convey!

A bigger problem (if you can believe there is one!) is with Patrick Page as the Green Goblin. Page is a seasoned and talented performer, and it is to his credit that he could make ANYTHING out of this ridiculous, underdeveloped "villain", I use that word generously. Are we supposed to be scared of the Goblin? Given some background scoring, lighting, costume and a mask, you would be give that impression. But it's hard to be frightened of a man who plays vaudeville patter songs on a piano singing "I'll Take Manhattan" (Paige's solo turn) acting like Liberace, and running on in his Britney Spears-meets-Miley Cyrus laughable UNNECESSARY southern twang!

I LOVED the stunt/flying sequences, and believe me; when Spider-man, the Green Goblin and Arachne soar over the crowd a mere inches from your heads at Breakneck speed, it truly is the kind of EXHILIRATING theater magic that only Director Julie Taymor can deliver! However, a Broadway Musical can not rest on those laurels alone. Without any interesting characters, a driven story, or any worthwhile songs to speak of, this piece would be a better fit as a Cirque show in Vegas, or even a Spectacular stunt show at a Universal Studios Theme Park.

Alan Cummings and Evan Rachel Wood were originally slated to star (as Goblin, and MJ), but reportedly dropped out last spring due to "scheduling conflicts". Hell, I would have scheduled a year of root canal surgeries just to avoid the critical backlash these poor actors most assuredly have coming to them!

I have to make it clear that no fault can be placed on the backs of these performers, or the rest of the brilliant HARD working cast of actors, singers, dancers, musicians, and aerial stunt men. They are doing their jobs to the best of their ability and that definitely shows. I wish my fellow employed actors a full paid contracted run, and hopefully enough press and opportunity to "cut their teeth" from this show that they can easily transfer to another gig that will utilize their gifts and talents better. Unfortunately, I can not, in good conscience, bestow the same good wishes on the Theatrical Assault that is, "Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark".

At an operating cost of 1 million dollars per week, Spiderman would need to sell out EVERY performance for over TWO AND A HALF YEARS just to break even! For the sake of Broadway credibility and theatergoers everywhere, I hope the show is not around that long.

This is just One Rotten Egg that needed to incubate for a few more months before being hatched!

On a scale of Top, Bottom, or Versatile, I give "Spider-man: Turn off The Dark" (now known as "The Forbidden Show"! a Sloppy Pig Bottom! You know, the kind of messy bottom that's too tweaked out to realize that 'The party's over, and it's time to pack up your harness and GO!'

See you on the Boards!

-Rhett Kalman

1 comment:

  1. ah carlos, i remember when you pre-empively shushed some kids before the lights even went down for "moulin rouge".