Monday, March 14, 2011

'Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark' Saga Continues

Spiderman to the rescue in a scene from the troubled production, "Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark."Photos by Jacob Cohl.


book superheroes have their own mythologies. It is incumbent upon their fans to debate their genesis, mission and powers.

In the case of “Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark,” it has been up to Julie Taymor to finesse the tale.

“Spider-Man’s” flight on Broadway has been marked by terrible mishaps that have been reported far and wide. But the speculation and bad press have helped keep the house at the Foxwoods Theatre full through a long cycle of previews. As of this writing that cycle has been extended.

Just Wednesday (9 March), rumor was that the show’s much delayed opening night, expected to be 16 March, would be delayed yet again. As of Thursday (10 March), it turns out these rumors were true despite the assurance of the lovely lady at the Foxwoods box office. “We’re still selling tickets,” she said.

The usher at the Wednesday matinee, aware of the news reports, said resignedly, “I’ve gotten no official word about my job.” Opening night is now scheduled for 14 June, by the way. In the interim, all previews are cancelled. Ticket refunds and exchanges are available.

Media reports that there would be changes in the creative were also correct. Those changes extend to director and co-creator, JT, which is a real shame. Her vision, however muddled the story she and Glen Berger have cobbled together, is genuinely brilliant. Of course, she cannot be summarily dismissed, owing to issues of copyright. Phil McKinley is stepping in to take over day-to-day oversight of the production.

“Julie Taymor is not leaving the creative team. Her vision has been at the heart of this production since its inception and will continue to be so,” producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris are quoted as saying on the “Spider-Man” blog. “Julie's previous commitments mean that past March 15th, she cannot work the 24/7 necessary to make the changes in the production in order to be ready for our opening. We cannot exaggerate how technically difficult it is to make such changes to a show of this complexity … Phil is hugely experienced with productions of this scale …”

Sketch from “Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark,” which has gone dark until 14 June.

A word about the story in seven simplified panels:
1. The Geek Chorus, four nerdy teens, is recreating the account of the rise and fall of Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Matthew James Thomas). Miss Arrow (Alice Lee) – JT’s alter ego – introduces the legend;

2. Of Arachne (T.V. Carpio) whose excessive pride in her skills as a weaver have angered the goddess Athena. Nonetheless, Athena saves her from death but turns her into an original spider;

3. Peter is an inquisitive, intelligent teenager who is bullied by his classmates in love with his neighbor, Mary Jane Watson (America Olivo) understudying at this matinee;

4. On a field trip to a biotech lab run by Norman Osborn (Patrick Page), Peter is bitten by a spider and given spider powers. As he grows into Spider-man, Peter does much good. Conflicted by the demands that being a superhero make on his time, however, Peter relinquishes the powers;

5. In a related occurrence, Norman, in an attempt to remain ethical in a corrupt society, accidentally transforms himself into the villainous Green Goblin;

6. Angered by Peter’s ambivalence and eventual rejection of his spider powers, and his love for Mary Jane, Arachne revitalizes the foes Spider-Man has vanquished and plunges the world into chaos and darkness;

While director/co-creator Julie Taymor will not be involved in the day-to-day operations of "Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark," she will not be leaving the production, at least not officially.

7. It is up to Peter to resume his role as Spider-Man and bring back light to the world.

JT, also an award-winning costumer, designed the outlandish and beautiful masks for the gaggle of villains and super-villains that besiege the New York so splendidly created by scenic designer George Tsypin.

Daniel Ezralow’s choreography, both on solid ground and in the air, is flawlessly breathtaking. Of the earthbound dancing, “Bullying By Numbers” is a gem of acrobatic and balletic movement. The aerial weaving scene in “Behold and Wonder" is an ethereal wonder of choreography and effects. In fact, all of the aerial choreography is thrilling – most spectacularly so the overhead battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. (See video at

This reviewer hopes sincerely that the producers, in revising the production and expanding the new creative team, will not throw out the spidey with the bath water.

Visit to learn more about “Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark,” including ticket refund/exchange information.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
VEVLYN'S PEN: The Wright take on life by Vevlyn Wright is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License .
Based on a work at .
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at .