Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

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Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Post  SenorSwanky on Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:35 am

I was skeptical this thing would work, but from videos I've been seeing on Broadway.com and 60 Minutes, this looks like it could be a killer show both musically and visually. Would have been cool to see Alan Cumming as the Green Goblin, but Patrick Page should also be good.

The thing that could make this a short-lived spectacle and artistic experiment is that it's impossible to tour this production, or at least incredibly expensive, because of the massive flying rigs that involve the actors doing stunts over the audience. The setup and choreography would be different in each theater. I could see it transferring to Vegas and other cities for a sit-down, but not a tour, so recouping the $60 million investment will depend entirely on Broadway in a recession. If I were in NY, I'd surely get a ticket. I hope others give it a shot, because it seems like a really innovative show, unlike a lot of other kitschy transfers of franchise properties to the stage.

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Re: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Post  IamErik771 on Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:22 pm

I haven't seen the 60 Minutes segment, but am intrigued by what I have seen so far of this show. Not sure overall about whether it'll be to my taste -- I'm a bit concerned about how the plot will work if so many villains are involved, and I'm hoping the song they keep playing in all the promotional clips isn't the only good one in the show (though I did enjoy it myself). The effects look great, certainly, and I like what I've seen of the set design. The costumes... not so much, aside from Spidey's outfit (and considering how standard the classic red-and-blue is, they'd have to do a lot to screw that up).

In any case, it'll be interesting to see how this all turns out. I'm glad there's going to be some kind of superhero musical, since live theater is the only medium they haven't really conquered. Interestingly, there's also going to be a live Batman show (non-musical) opening in the UK soon, with a US tour scheduled to follow. So we'll see whether this leads to a superhero surge on stage that will parallel the genre's success on the screen.

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Re: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Post  ML6 on Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:19 am

See, this thing is a mess. I think the effects are lovely, but are just going to be the reason to get people into the theatre. Which SHOULDN'T be the point of a musical. It should be one of the key elements, but honestly... no.

I heard the score/songs are awful. And I'd expect that from Bono. His lyrics for Goldeneye were awful.
(Ace of Base had a better shot at a catchy song.)

Anyway. This kind of makes me sad because a lot of my favorite European musicals use extravagant (not SPIDER-MAN extravagant) set designs. And if they have any hope of being staged over here, you have Spider-Man to hearken back to and think about.

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Re: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Post  Paula74 on Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:16 pm

I'm not a very fan of comic books and superheroes in general...with the minor exception of Tim Burton's Batman. So, even if this musical turned out to be amazingly good, I wouldn't be in any hurry to see it.

That said...I've been following the first preview thread on BWW...mainly because it's amusing to watch the arguing, debating, and discussing from a fairly neutral POV.

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Re: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Post  SenorSwanky on Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:37 pm

ML6 wrote:And I'd expect that from Bono. His lyrics for Goldeneye were awful.
Is that all you know of Bono? I happen to love that song; probably one of the best Bond songs. But do you not know any of U2's stuff? They're an awesome band.

(Ace of Base had a better shot at a catchy song.)
Ace of Base? Really? Laughing

I haven't heard how the second preview went. Anyone know?

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Re: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Post  Paula74 on Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:44 pm

SenorSwanky wrote:
I haven't heard how the second preview went. Anyone know?

I believe the second preview isn't until tomorrow night...there's no ticket sales listed for tonight and I'm pretty sure that's what was mentioned on BWW...though after 20+ pages on the first preview, I can't remember who said what.

There's a lot of rumors at this point...including that the Foxwoods Theatre is already looking for a new show to bring in.

I should add that I do like U2. Not necessarily enough to see them live in concert, but they're pretty well represented on my iPod. So, there's a chance that I'd at least buy some of the songs from Spider-Man.

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Re: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Post  SenorSwanky on Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:12 pm

So they already knew they were just doing one preview and then stewing on it for a few days to fix the inevitable glitches? I hope they can work it out, because it seems like it could be a special experience. They already have delayed its opening quite a bit, but I guess it still might not be ready for prime time.

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Re: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Post  ML6 on Thu Dec 02, 2010 4:48 am

SenorSwanky wrote:
ML6 wrote:And I'd expect that from Bono. His lyrics for Goldeneye were awful.
Is that all you know of Bono? I happen to love that song; probably one of the best Bond songs. But do you not know any of U2's stuff? They're an awesome band.

(Ace of Base had a better shot at a catchy song.)


Ace of Base? Really? Laughing
I'm not a fan of U2 but I'm familiar with their hits. As for Goldeneye, Bono's lyrics are just so... meh. As much as I dislike Don Black, he wrote far better lyrics for The World is Not Enough.

Ace of Base's "The Goldeneye" represented Trevelyan and Bond's friendship and seperation and the whole looming factor of the Goldeneye system, and making it sound like older Bond songs (such as "You Only Live Twice") with the harpsichord making a Russian waltz. Long story short,really liked the fact that they were pushed aside for Bono.

I just think that when it comes to Spider-Man the musical, you should at least make a 'demo album' or a 'studio album' before releasing this crap onto audiences. Then if the music went over well, and the songs became hits on the radio, etc, then we would have seen reason for a musical. But the songs that were shown in their concerts and on The Today Show were bland and quite forgettable.

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Re: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Post  SenorSwanky on Thu Dec 02, 2010 6:36 am

I don't know what the orchestrations would have ultimately been like, but I YouTubed the Ace of Base song, which I wasn't aware of, and it's just bland pop to me. Much prefer the song they chose, which has awesome orchestrations and a great vocal performance by Tina Turner. I love the sultry beat too. Perfect for Bond. Really, who cares about lyrics to a Bond theme song? None of them has ever had lyrics to speak of except maybe We Have All the Time in the World. It's all about having a cool tune to play over cool visuals and credits. Something that evokes espionage and the spirit of the Bond movies.

Also, rarely are cast or even concept albums released before a musical debuts. Why should Spider-Man be any different? I don't see why people have such animosity toward this musical, especially with the creative team they put together, when only a handful of people have seen it yet. People were just waiting for it to fail, and are jumping all over the technical glitches from the first preview. It's sickening. At least when we do it to LND it's for good reason--the plot.

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Re: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Post  Raphael on Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:43 am

I caught that 60 Minutes segment a few weeks ago. While I like U2, none of the songs I heard previewed in the segment or elsewhere struck my fancy. On the other hand, I thought the wirework was highly impressive - and apparently extremely dangerous considering all the injuries incurred so far. The stuntwork looks great, and the production design is as avant-garde as I'd expect from a Julie Taymor show. But would I pay $160 to see it? Probably not. Spectacle alone isn't enough to get me into the theatre.

That being said, I expect it's still better than LND.

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Re: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Post  LadyCDaae on Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:38 am

Wow, Raphael, talk about damning with faint praise... Laughing

I'm kind of following this out of semi-morbid curiosity, but I'm not super-interested. I heard "The Boy Falls From the Sky" (or whatever) a couple months back and it didn't do much for me.

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Re: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Post  providerofgoods on Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:11 pm

I attended the very first preview, because the word-of-mouth from Michael Riedel's column alone suggested this was the show to see if one wanted to see an epic catastrophe. Unlike some other people's opinions of him, Mr. Riedel, true to form, has never let me down. I extend no sympathy to the creators and producers of Spider-Man. They bought a turkey. Anything said below is said as a paying ticket-holder to the first preview, and an observer of the events that followed.

I've been working in professional theater since I was 15, and trust me when I tell you that contrary to public perception, first preview is almost always treated like opening as far as designers, directors, and producers are concerned. You better have your shit together and get the show up and running. Having scenery that isn't even built and installed in time, especially on a show with this much hype and this kind of money behind it, is absolutely inexcusable. Having the rigging not teched-out and properly rehearsed before you have that kind of audience is inexcusable. It is an insult to the patrons and an embarrassment to the production. All of this talk about "what do you expect from a first preview" is ridiculous. I expect a finished product and a competent production team. Final product or not, the show should have been more ready for previews than it actually was, especially when the team has had literally over a year to work out the kinks, more than plenty of time. Saying the preview period is going to be extended to iron out the problems is ridiculous. It being the preview period is no excuse for these shenanigans. The preview period isn't the time to rework the entire show, which Spider-Man desperately needs.

I was later made aware that the show had not had a full run-through until the first night. They had no clue what the full running time was; apparently no one had ever thought of running the whole thing from start to finish to see if it needed cuts, or if there would be any problems with the special effects. The last ten minutes of the show hadn't even been staged in rehearsal. If a show has to stop four times during a performance, and that's not counting an intermission that stretched on forever due to tech difficulties, and an additional ten minutes before the show could come to an end, with everything above in consideration including the lack of a full run-through, it is not ready for a paying audience. I almost felt like I'd walked into a real version of The Producers, and half expected to find Leo Bloom and Max Bialystock in a bar near the theater exchanging drinks with a nut with pigeons, a Nazi helmet, and a Spider-Man Halloween costume.

In terms of score, book, direction, and much of the casting, this show needs a Scarlet Pimpernel-style makeover from top to bottom, but there is no excuse whatsoever for why the book and score are so horrendous, when they've had enough time (and money) to make five shows with a budget of $13 million each work, rather than spending all 65 mil in one place. My misgivings about some of them aside, I hope the cast are getting hazard pay, but it seems like so far $65 million has produced a mediocre score (including one recycled U2 tune) and a dreadful book whose problems were evidently ignored in favor of getting a lot of "cool" special effects (that don't really seem to do anything consistently other than screw up or injure people) passed by Equity boards, so somehow I don't find it hard to imagine the cast being overlooked. Julie Taymor directed this play? Seems to me like the job was done by Howard, Fine & Howard.

I am fully aware that buying tickets to the first preview of a technically complex Broadway show practically guarantees that there are bound to be hiccups. But they used to try Broadway shows out of town before bringing them in. All the 'bugs' (pardon the unintentional pun) used to be worked out before they got to Broadway! It is unfair for people to pay enormous prices for imperfection. It would be worth it to spend the cash trying it out elsewhere, rather than losing all that advance sales cash and closing prematurely. All of the press has been bad; all of the word-of-mouth has been absolutely horrible. It did attract people at first to see it for the spectacle of it all, but spectacle can only go so far in the theater. They seem to be implying that spectacle and extravagance are enough to make a show a sell-out phenomenon. If that were true, Shrek and Young Frankenstein would have been the biggest hits in Broadway history. If they think this show is going to get good reviews, they're living in a fool's paradise. I don't even see a sympathy Tony in their futures.

As a working producer, I view this as a very serious issue. The kind of black holes caused by ventures like this hurt all of us who have to raise money to effectuate plays and films. Money-wise, the backers of this production can never make their money back, especially with the unrealistic conditions required to merit a return on their investment, let alone any profit after the fact. To break even, they need to sell out every seat in the house for over four years. It seems this show couldn't even make it four weeks without something going so horribly wrong that Actor's Equity was halting performances, and OSHA and the New York State Labor Department were looking into unsafe workplace practices.

The seating capacity is too small regardless of ticket prices. Their insurance for such a production probably has a million dollar deductible. Eventually they will have to cut back on the stunts, if they're smart and want to try to keep the show running. (In the comments on Michael Riedel's New York Post column's piece on the show, already we're seeing signs of shady tricks by the producers to attempt to make their money back: one consumer reported he bought tickets for one preview, in fact the producers sold him a discounted pair of tickets, and then canceled the performance and refused to replace the tickets with comparable seats at the same price for another performance, no refund. That is shameful, grossly unfair, and a poor business practice.)

I'm not one to wish anyone ill-will. That being said, however, I am hoping for the failure of this monstrosity now that I've actually seen it. It embodies all that is wrong with Broadway. There are so many good writers and good pieces of work out there, but "Broadway" is only interested in what will sell to the masses. Broadway is not a theme park, but this seems more like a Vegas or Disney attraction than a theatrical production. This show is clearly more about money and egos than art. It's kind of nice to see those big names and their mountains of money get some comeuppance. "Epic flop" is putting it mildly when it comes to this show. If I want to see this kind of nonsense, I'll go to Vegas and see Cirque. There is more at risk right now than finances. The safest -- and sanest -- thing to do on the part of the producers and investors is to accept that they're taking a huge bath, and flush this show down the toilet. It's done. Stick a fork in it.

And a commentary on those who reported a standing ovation at the end of the show: As far as a standing ovation, every performance from Broadway to church basement gets a standing ovation these days. It's not a barometer for anything other than people accepting any type of low-rent manure that's shoved at them. And by the end of that show, after all the stops and the mind-numbing crap, when we got up to applaud, it could have been anything on that stage. It could have been Christ on the cross for all I cared. I was thankful to get up, and get the hell out.

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Re: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Post  Amyable_Nature on Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:12 pm

I admit it, I am hoping this will be an embarrassing failure. That kind of hubris is begging for this to go up in flames...although I feel guilty for using the word flames because that isn't outside the realm of possibility here. I wish no physical harm on anyone Shocked

My brother saw the show not too long ago. He said he felt violated. Not only did they have to stop a few times, the music is horrible and the show itself is just a freaking joke.

There's money well spent.

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Re: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Post  IamErik771 on Mon Mar 21, 2011 5:52 am

I haven't gotten to see the show, but I did get to hear one of the preview performances. No stops in it, so it likely wasn't the very first one (unless whoever recorded it was a really skilled editor). I thought the songs overall were ok, but none of them really stood out for me; they were all pretty unmemorable, but I wouldn't consider any of them to be "bad."

In terms of plot, from what I could tell, the show took great care to establish that it wasn't meant to be taken as canon by Spidey fans. The entire story is set up from the get-go as what essentially amounts to comic geeks dreaming up their ultimate Spider-Man fanfiction. Sounds odd, I know... but in that context, one could argue that things like the number of villains (including one who was never in the comics), the random tie-ins to Greek mythology, certain plot holes, and just about anything else one might find disagreeable about the show are more or less covered. As a fan of the comics and movies myself, that made it a bit easier for me to look at the show objectively... and to be fair, its portrayal of the characters was fairly spot-on. I'd argue that its version of Mary Jane was far more true to the comics than Kirsten Dunst's version of the character was at any point in the film trilogy. (According to recent news, though, Julie Taymor has stepped down as director and the "comic geek fanfic" idea may be scrapped as a result, so there goes that potentially most workable part of the show.)

My one big, overarching complaint about the story, though, is that it doesn't really do much we haven't seen before; we aren't given a reason why we should care about this version rather than just see the movies again or find the original comics second-hand. The aforementioned tie-in to Greek mythology is interesting... but similar things have been done many times before within the Marvel Universe. And that brings me to a quibble I've had with how the creators of the show have promoted and talked about it from the start. I'm personally supportive of superheroes being featured in live theatre (yes, even in musicals), but I know there are a lot of people who don't think it can work, and there's nothing in or around this show that's going to have any chance of convincing them otherwise. In every interview I've seen with Julie Taymor, Bono, and The Edge, the talk (aside from praising the cast and crew) has pretty much exclusively been about the special effects and sets. Okay, I'm glad they're going to be spectacular, but that's not going to make me put down $100 or more to see it live. As far as I've seen, there hasn't been any talk about creating this show to give comic books the respect they deserve from "high culture," or to introduce comic fans to the wonderful world of musicals, or to find an innovative way to tell a superhero story through a different medium, or anything of that sort. The way it looks to me is that they only picked Spider-Man as the subject of this musical because they knew there was a ready-made fanbase that could be persuaded to buy tickets. Add to that the utter insanity of putting so much money and effort into a totally untested concept, to the point where they'd have to sell every ticket to every show for years before they could so much as break even... I'd like this show to succeed, but if it doesn't, they had it coming. I'm sorry, but it seems like nobody really thought this through before committing to it.

Still, I think it goes without saying that if I were forced to choose between either seeing Spider-Man on Broadway or a certain sequel playing in the UK, I'd pick Spidey in a heartbeat. At least that show has some chance of winning me over by not completely offending my sensibilities. Very Happy

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