Will Spidey Defeat (Critic’s) Venom?

by James Haro

“UNCOOL!”

This is the way Rick Miramontez, Spider-Man musical spokesperson, decided to express himself in an exclusive statement to Entertainment Weekly. He speaks in reference to the fact that many major publications bit the bullet, bought tickets to what has become the highest weekly grossing show on Broadway, and sent their critics to the Foxwoods Theatre to witness the $65 million production still in previews (the opening date has been moved multiple times) for themselves. The verdict?

“Beyond repair…”“Please, Lord, make it stop…” “a shrill, insipid mess…”“An inconsistent, maddening show…”“worth rooting for…”

…Wait. Worth rooting for? But hasn’t Spidey become an overproduced villain of-sorts on the Great White Way? Worth rooting for? But now that the reviews are out, won’t this bloated bag of wind be given the Uncle Ben treatment? This production is doomed.

And yet, despite all available knowledge of its alleged flaws and incoherence, I know I can say without pause that I still have an urge to go and see for myself how bad this thing actually is…or how bad it isn’t. After all, in between all the lambasting there are small praises to be found. An small consensus is hazily evident among reviews on the quality of the acting, the scenic design, and the exciting aspect of the high flying elements (when working), among other things. Technical calamities, though they are an issue, seem to be becoming incorporated into the show. More than once I’ve read of certain ad libbing going thusly:

Patrick Page…ad-libbed a warning to Reeve Carney (who stars as Spider-Man)…marking time by pretending to drink Champagne. “You gotta be careful,” Mr. Page said. “You’re gonna fly over the heads of the audience, you know. I hear they dropped a few of them.” -NYT

What if “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” is good for exactly what it is? It’s no secret that many audiences are interested in seeing this show with the hopes of witnessing something go wrong. Well, many have; and many critics said that those moments were the most entertaining parts. Its possible this production is going to go along just fine being the must see train-wreck of a show its been confirmed to be. This thing could ride all the way to the bank on its B-movie-esque appeal. And all that publicity! I don’t imagine it will recoup, its almost a certainty that it won’t, but it would really be something if it did, wouldn’t it?

However, tech mishaps aside, its interesting to think about how well received the show would be with a better book. The story conceived by acclaimed director Julie Taymor as well as Glen Berger has been the most complained about aspect of the production. Could there be a chance for Spidey to battle back against the powers that be? With a month left of previews (or more if its pushed back again), what if the show was improved considerably with rewrites and sharpened technical execution? What if producers were able to shove premature reviews right back into the face of impatient critics? What if “Turn Off the Dark” became one of the most acclaimed shows on B’Way once it officially opens?!

These, however unlikely, are very fun scenarios to imagine, for me anyway.

The whole idea surrounding this production is fairly fun (aside from the fate of the injured that have lived to see another day). Our society likes to watch things fall apart, but we also like the see things pull themselves up and fight back and win. Peter Parker is no stranger in the role of underdog. If I ever get to see this show maybe my tune will change, but at this point I really do hope to see this strange theatrical experiment come into fruition in the best form it can.

James Haro is a Los Angeles native currently attending Drexel University in Philadelphia, seeking a BS in Entertainment and Arts Management, Theatre Concentration. He co-operates a blog at www.AngryPatrons.WordPress.com.
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2 responses to “Will Spidey Defeat (Critic’s) Venom?

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