Tag Archives: Broadway reviews

Once bitten

I have been conflicted about seeing Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.

Word of mouth on the show has been awful, and the first reviews unforgiving.  The only fan so far?  Glenn Beck.

(Yet another reason not to attend.)

But no one seemingly can deny the spectacle of the show.  So when a ticket became available for last night’s performance — fourth row center and cheap — I couldn’t pass it up.

Now I’m conflicted about what I saw.

The book is bad.   I won’t get much argument on that point.  When a show begins with a four-person Greek chorus — teens writing their own Spiderman comic book — that is your first clue.

Their attempts to explain the meandering action are annoying at best.  Thanks for trying.  It isn’t your fault.  And that ending?  Well, let’s just say, I literally threw up my hands at how they tried to tie up a dangling plot point.

The score by Bono and the Edge consists of a whole bunch of moody Bono ballads — not the most inspiring backdrop for an action-packed Broadway musical.   There was only one song that really got the audience going…and that was the second to the last one in the show.

That’s a long wait, people.

Visually, the show bears the creative stamp of Julie Taymor.   There are elements that are stunning, particularly in her manipulation of perspective.  She takes the audience to the very top of the Manhattan skyline with Spiderman and Green Goblin and again on the plunge to the streets below.

It’s amazing what she both conceived and brought to life on that stage.

But stylistically, the show is inconsistent.  Sets are slick and sophisticated one moment, cartoonish and high school drama club the next.  Did Spiderman really just wrestle a blow-up doll?  On a $65 million budget????

Oh yes, he did.

All that being said, the actors and stunt men who flew Spidey and Green Goblin all over the Foxwoods Theatre did an incredible job.  I feared for my life at every swoop — sometimes mere feet above my head — and was ever grateful for the triple redundant safety measures* now in place.

Who knows?  Perhaps everything you are reading here is a symptom of survivor syndrome.  Because I did survive the greatest flop in Broadway musical theater history.

Now, there’s a reason to see it right there!

*Those measures eliminated Spiderman’s final planned flight of the evening when a safety rope slipped before take-off, the only apparent tech diff of the night.

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High note

Every year, movie actors come to Broadway to explore their craft, and Broadway welcomes them with open arms (to exploit their popularity and sell tickets).

Hey, we all know it’s true.

How many stars of movie and television have made their ‘Broadway debut’ years into their careers and gotten lackluster reviews?

Sadly, Broadway often comes out on top in this equation. Audiences will still fill the seats, even if the movie actor isn’t all that good. Let’s face it — we love a train wreck as much as a triumph, and add a celebrity and some Milk Duds to the carnage, and…

That’s entertainment!

Luckily, the revival of “Lend Me a Tenor” on Broadway, which is loaded with actors you know and love from movies and television, leaves no blood on the Great White Way.  Just lots and lots of laughs.

How refreshing to see this great comedy played to its fullest potential!

And while the audience in attendance last night no doubt expected great things from Tony Shaloub (“Monk”) and Anthony LaPaglia (“Without a Trace”), they saved the standing ovation for Justin Bartha, formerly known as the underused groom in “The Hangover” and Nicolas Cage’s assistant with the funny one-liners  in the “National Treasure” movies.

Now?

Call him a Tony nominee.