60 MINUTES Piece on SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK; plus Reviews of Tonight’s Debut Preview

     November 28, 2010


CBS’ 60 Minutes did a segment tonight on Julie Taymor’s upcoming musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.  With music by U2’s Bono and The Edge, it is the most expensive musical in Broadway history.  Part of that is due to the production’s continued delays and, according to 60 Minutes, the operating cost is $1 million a week.  Another interesting fact gleamed from 60 Minutes‘ story is that one of the show’s original producers had a seizure and died when Bono and The Edge were about to sign their contracts.  No one took that as a bad sign.

Tonight, the $65 million musical began it’s first night of previews.  According to WENN, the show’s only full rehearsal was scheduled for last night, but had to be canceled, which means tonight, in front of an audience, is the first time it’s ever been performed from start to finish.  Hit the jump for the 60 Minutes piece and reactions to tonight’s performance.  Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is set to open on January 11, 2011.

spider-man_turn_off_the_dark_poster_01Before I share some tweets and posts from those who say they saw tonight’s performance at the Foxwoods Theater, it’s important to explain that the show is still a work in progress and that these previews are not the finished product.  They’re a tool to help the production gauge what areas need to be fixed and tweaked.

Here’s a Twitter review from @nyindieguy:

At first public preview of Taymor’s “Spiderman.” Usher just warned not to get out of our seats…actors will be flying around us.

#Spiderman: at intermission after several technical delays. But tech issues are not the only things that need work. More to come…

#Spiderman: definitely needs work in the 6 weeks until it opens. It’s basically incoherent…a pageant of Taymor imagery…

#Spiderman (cont): set pieces are spectacular, and the flying looks genuinely dangerous, but the music isn’t good enough to hold it together

#Spiderman: I hope they pull it together, but it’ll take a lot of pruning.

On the BroadwayWorld message boards, “Broadway Joe” writes:

I hated it. Im waiting for the train home so ill write more later but that was such a huge disappointment. The fashion show was horrible. All of the villians looked horrible. That whole love thing with arachne made no sense whatsoever. They also had 4 kids in act 1 basically talking about what was happening and then somehow in act 2 they end up really being in the story. The book is a total cluster****. A u2 song made it into the show as well. Arachne also sings a song about her shoes. Awful. Just awful. I highly doubt ill be seeing it when it actually opens. I love spider-man and i thought i was gonna love this but damn i hated it


And “Cosmic Explorer” posts:

ok, I have no idea what I just witnessed. It was a total incoherent mess. taymor seems to have gotten so caught up in the symbolism and fx that she forgot to include a story. innovative at times, but soulless always. I’ll write more later but now i need a drink to clear my head.

And “CapnHook” says:

– The set, costumes, lighting, and sound will all be nominated for Tonys. Set and costumes is a front-winner to win.

– The flying sequences are amazing, but even after they get all the bugs out, I feel that they ultimately will stop the story and the show dies. We’ll see…

– I sat in the balcony. There is an entrance from a character that flies from the balcony to the stage. It took four stagehands to get the actor in the place. The actor wears a large costume. It was SO distracting. I have no clue what happened on stage preceding that entrance, because I couldn’t keep my eyes off the stagehands and actor getting into place.

– Not that any of this matters. People going to the show pay for the spectacle and the music. Screw the story. Plot? What plot?

– Oh. Plot. Right. That thing that supposedly was there but only Julie Taymor could understand because she wrote it in her alien language on her alien planet. ACT I was understandable. ACT II was bizarre. It was completely lost. The show is meant to be meaningful, I guess…?

– The actors were all fine. Natalie Mendoza is the only stand-out. I usually don’t care for Patrick Page, but I loved him in this. Reeve Carney and Jennifer Damiano have beautiful voices but do not have any arc to their characters. Their characters have polar opposite transitions (in regards to growth) but we do not see that journey.

– The show was stopped 5-6 times. During one of those times in the second act, a woman in the audience screamed out (at least what I think was:) “I don’t know about anybody else, but I feel like a guinea pig and I want my money back! We should all get refunds!” The audience booed her. Another time the show was stopped right at the Act I Finale “stunt” and the Spider-Man performer was above the audience. Trapped. Stagehands walked on stage and he swayed and they reached over the orchestra to try and grab him. Took 3 attempts. Audience laughed.

– The score was OK/Good. It is difficult to tell if the songs are too long, or if it just happened to feel that way due to the long transitions.

– Spotted in the audience: Sean Hayes, Kevin Chamberlain, Bernard Telsey, Christian Campbell, Michael Reidel, and Casey Nicholaw.

– The show is not a complete mess. There is SOMETHING there. Let’s hope that the Preview period doesn’t become just about the technical but also about the substance.


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