Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has at last officially opened on Broadway as of last Tuesday. At Sunday night’s Tony Awards show (June 12), Bono and The Edge introduced a song from the show, “If the World Should End,” which was performed that night. The number featured Peter Parker (Reeve Carney) and Mary Jane Watson (Jennifer Damiano) sitting on a landing (representing a roof, maybe?) suspended several feet above the stage, singing a rather lovely ballad together. It was a good number to boost attention for the show; it sounds like a pop/rock single you’d hear on the radio.
Here are my thoughts, though keep in mind I haven’t seen the show, of course. Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark costs $1 million a week to put on. In comparison, Les Miserables, one of Broadway’s most popular shows in the past (and third longest running show), and also one of the more expensive and complicated shows, cost about $50-60 million to produce a night, which averages to about half a million a week. Spider-Man costs twice that to put on, and all it’s really got going for it is a troubled production history that has been filling the media for months with bad rumors and controversy (and a slew of bad reviews during its previews run earlier this year). People will flock to it just to see what all the fuss is about. But then what? Fans can only keep it going for so long. It would take years of packed houses to recoup the production costs (which ran upwards of $70 million, making it, along with its weekly running costs, the most expensive show on Broadway). I don’t want the crew or cast (which appears to contain about ten Spider-Man stunt doubles) to be without jobs, but I can’t help a feeling of schadenfreude about the whole thing. The show is a disaster waiting to happen (and in fact, has been plagued by disasters, such as injured cast members, a director shift, bad preview reviews, and a complete reworking of the script). This isn’t Cirque du Soleil. There’s nothing wrong with being innovative on Broadway, but the chance for injury and safety failure on this one is high. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t sit anywhere in the area where the actors fly over the audience during the show, and I’ve sat underneath the plummeting chandelier in Phantom of the Opera.
Here are some reviews for you, with the major consensus being that the story and music are boring, but the high-flying acrobatics are a joy to watch. A lot of reviews I’ve read conclude that the show isn’t completely awful, but that it’s not really great, either.
The Wall Street Journal said: “It’s the best-looking mediocre musical ever to open on Broadway.” While Newsday scathingly reported: “So, is it better? Yes, the story makes sense now and, so far, no one has fallen down. But is it better than junk-food theater in a jumbo package? No.”
Read the reviews or go see the show and decide for yourself if it’s worth the time. You won’t see it for less than $70 a ticket, though. Or you can take that money to The Book of Mormon instead, which, having listened to the soundtrack, I can guarantee will be entertaining. If you happen to catch a showing of Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, please let us know what you thought.