Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Action ... Lights: 'Spider-Man: Turns Off the Dark'

Arch rivals Green Goblin (Patrick Page) and Spider-Man (Reeve Carney) locked in combat in "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." Photos by Jacob Cohl.

BY TAMARA BECK

AFTER
six months of tryouts and rewrites, “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” turned on the lights a week ago today at a much anticipated and delayed opening night that brought out big Broadway and big Hollywood names.

Rewrites have clarified the story and in some cases oversimplified the plot. The pleasingly tangled web of mythology that places Arachne (T.V. Carpio) in a jealous wrangle with Mary Jane Watson (Jennifer Damiano) for Peter Parker’s (Reeve Carney) affections is no more. Gone, too, is the cutely named but annoying Geek Chorus – the four nerdy teens who ushered in the scenes. The story of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” now has to stand and fall on its own.

It’s a lot safer in the Foxwoods Theatre since “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” was revamped by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (co-book writer) along with Glen Berger, (an original co-book writer), and director Philip Wm. McKinley who was brought in as a consultant. Though Julie Taymor was forced out, she is still listed as director and co-book writer. Chase Brock came aboard to enhance Daniel Ezralow’s already breathtaking choreography.
(See a video at http://www.spidermanonbroadway.marvel.com/about#num=content-1074&id=album-9)

Reeve Carney as the man himself in "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark."

Several dance sequences left over from the original are the ethereal aerial weaving scene, “Behold and Wonder,” which features Arachne&Co. swinging on a loom, as well as the lively “Bullying By the Numbers.”

Also remaining are aerial adventures, including the very satisfying fight scene between the Green Goblin and Spider-Man, and wonderful scenery from JT’s original exciting but muddled vision of the play. “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” has been tamed and toned down.

In the musical, Peter Parker acquires his spider powers slowly after he is bitten by a genetically altered spider in Norman Osborn’s (Patrick Page) lab. “Bouncing Off The Walls,” not only describes Peter’s transition to spider super powers, but is also an ode to teen hormones. Norman becomes arch-villain The Green Goblin immediately with a few mis-turns of the dial and a short spin in a gene blender of a machine.

Spider-Man (Reeve Carney) has a tender moment with Mary Jane Watson (Jennifer Damiano) in "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark."

PP’s Green Goblin is a compelling rival for RC’s indecisive and slightly bland Spider-Man. In fact, PP enlivens the production with his utterly delightful, outsized and cartoonish wickedness.

Mythologizing is what superhero comic book fantasies do. “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” however, is timid in its myth-making, with a circus-tent feel that will please the kids and fans of the Spider-Man comics, if no one else.

To be clear, “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” which is big news because of the creative team changes and the exorbitant cost of the drawn-out production, is definitely fun. It just isn’t big news as a Broadway musical.

Visit http://www.spidermanonbroadway.marvel.com/ to learn more about “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.”

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