What We Talk About When We Talk About “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark”

If it looks corny, it's because it actually is corny.

In early March 2011, I saw the infamous Broadway musical, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark while it was still in previews and immediately before director/writer/auteur Julie Taymor was fired from the production (due to her unwillingness to accept major revisions to the script and music). I won’t do a review of the show; I already did that to some extent on the podcast, and the show has already been skewered by more than enough reviewers to obviate the need for an additional screed on the topic.

Instead, what I’d like to do in this space is explore some of the larger issues at stake with this troubled musical. It gets incessant coverage in the entertainment media, yet few are pausing to ask, “why all the fuss over this musical?” Granted, there’s the lurid appeal of injuries and the flashy A-list names (Bono, Justin Bieber, The Edge), but we wouldn’t be Overthinking It if we just stopped there.

So that’s why I’m asking the question, “What are we talking about when we are talking about Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark“?

Hint: it’s not Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark.

Julie Taymor: One of the Boys?

Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair.

I was ready to dismiss gender politics as a significant factor in the furor over this musical. If people are rooting against Julie Taymor, it’s not because she’s a woman; instead, it’s because people like to root against anyone who embarks on hugely expensive creative projects and promise a work of staggering genius. Remember how everyone seemed to want James Cameron to eat crow leading up to the releases of both Titanic and Avatar? Remember the collective meh and Axl-bashing that accompanied the long-delayed release of Chinese Democracy? It’s not about gender, I thought.

But then I realized that Julie Taymor explicitly says that it is about gender by the way she wrote the show. Allow me to explain: the first people we see on stage aren’t characters in the Spider-Man story; they’re a “geek chorus” that are discussing their ideal, canonical Spider-Man story. At first, three teenage boys quickly rehash the outline of the story that we’re all familiar with, but then a girl interrupts their fun, ridicules them for their juvenile attitudes towards gender, sexuality, and Spider-Man, and insists upon adding her own flair to the story.

That flair? The much-maligned Arachne character and plotline, in which the spider-woman from Greek mythology enters Peter Parker’s dreams and…oh I’m not even going to try to explain. It’s a hot mess, but more importantly, it’s a decidedly gendered hot mess. I think it’s pretty clear that Taymor’s additions of the sassy female member of the Geek Chorus and Arachne are her way of asserting herself in the male-dominated comic book/superhero world. A story once told and dominated by men is now in the hands of a powerful woman.

There are a lot of unflattering pictures of Clinton on Google image search. Go ahead, try it and see for your self.

Any of this sound familiar? Remember what happened when Hillary Clinton ran for president? Many saw her as a woman trying to get a man’s job and questioned her qualifications due to her gender, both implicitly and explicitly. Granted, we don’t see the same degree of overt, gendered criticism for Taymor, and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that the world of musical theater isn’t male dominated in the same way that politics and comic books are. But Taymor was either anticipating a gender-based backlash, or was already receiving such backlash when she wrote this show, and her reaction is undeniably forceful and direct.

It’s also utterly convoluted and detrimental to the Spider-Man story, but that’s because it’s actually convoluted and detrimental, not because a woman is trying to tell a superhero story.

So are criticisms of this musical and Julie Taymor indicative of latent sexism in society? That’s debatable and would require a fairly exhaustive scouring of media reactions and the language they use to suss out, but what’s not debatable is that Julie Taymor saw gender as enough of an issue to make it such an important part of the show.

More Money, More Problems

If you’ve been following this story, you’ve probably noticed that the show’s $65 million (and growing) price tag is mentioned in nearly every news article on the topic. It’s the most expensive musical in Broadway history (besting the previous record holder, Shrek: The Musical, by at least $40 million), and that fact is part of what keeps the show in the news. Now, details about the excesses and extravagance associated with that budget are starting to emerge:

Left largely to her own devices Ms. Taymor hired top-dollar stars to design the sets and costumes and to choreograph the show. The costume team alone had 23 people — 4 designers, 4 shoppers and 15 dressers. At one rehearsal in November at least a dozen designers and crew members struggled to fasten a spider costume onto the actress Natalie Mendoza. Not enough, it seemed.

“Can we get the puppet department up there?” Ms. Taymor said into a microphone. With that, 20 more people took the stage to help Ms. Mendoza. A video crew documented the creative energy.

Even without knowing the details of the swarm of extraneous costume designers and videographers, one cannot help but be repulsed by the show’s gargantuan costs, particularly while the economy continues to flounder, houses continue to go into foreclosure at alarming rates, and governments with massive fiscal crises are laying off cops and firefighters by the droves. On one hand, we’re told to do more with less and to embrace a new sense of financial austerity. On the other hand, a trainwreck of a Broadway show taps a seemingly never-ending stream of cash and has…a laughably campy air to show for it:

Yes, the Green Goblin actually looks this stupid.

Now, to be fair, it’s not like some insanely rich, evil hedge fun tycoon has been solely and indiscriminately financing this show for the past decade. In fact, the production came close to bankruptcy a few years ago and will do a lot of damage to the show’s investors if it flops. But details like that get lost when people casually scan the news and hear about this Spider-Man musical that’s THE MOAST EXPENSIVE EVAR and is also TEH SUX while they stare at their dwindling bank accounts, wonder how they’ll make the mortgage this month, and then read about increased taxes and reduced police protection in their community. Couldn’t they have found something better to do with those $65 million, besides put the Green Goblin in a silly rubber suit and injure a lot of stuntmen?

Like, for example, hire someone to come up with a better title?

Worst. Title. Ever.

Turn off this show...please

Turn Off The Dark

Seriously?

I’m surprised I haven’t heard more people talk about this: I firmly believe that one of the reasons why this musical gets so much attention and is ridiculed so much in the press is that its title is bad. Really bad. I mean, unfathomably bad. It’s so bad and so obviously open to parody (read the comments on “Overthinking It Podcast Episode 140, ‘Hulk: Turn Off The Smash'” for proof) that I think people haven’t stopped to appreciate the magnitude of this particular showing of incompetence.

Let’s talk about titles for a moment. A good title primes the audience to expect a certain tone (Terminator: sounds menacing), and it communicates an idea that ideally is reflected in the work of art itself (Terminator: it’s about terminating). Consider other titles (besides my favorite, Terminator) that work well in this regard:

The Dark Knight

The Wire

Bat Out Of Hell

We take awesome titles like these for granted because they are associated with awesome things. Now, consider a less awesome title:

Terriers

To my knowledge, there were no flying wire stunts or bullshit Greek choruses in this TV show.

What’s that? Never heard of it? Have no idea what it’s referring to? I don’t blame you. Terriers was by all accounts a fantastic television show, but it had an awful title that probably did significant damage to the show’s chances at survival.

Here’s the show’s premise from the Wikipedia page:

Ex-cop and recovering alcoholic Hank Dolworth (Logue) partners with his best friend, former criminal Britt Pollack (Raymond-James) in an unlicensed private investigation business. The series is set in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California, although it is portrayed as a distinct town, Dolworth having been a member of the fictional “Ocean Beach Police Department”

Sounds cool, right? Unfortunately, none of this is reflected in the title. At all. So when you’re flipping through your cable channel guide or scanning through a TV blog and thinking about what you’re going to watch tonight, coming across the word Terriers brings to mind…dogs…not a grizzled private detective and his misadventures. Skip. Show canceled. Not helped by a bad title.

Now, back to Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. It’s a nonsense phrase and therefore incapable of communicating anything substantive about the show. And before you ask, no, there’s no discernible theme of lightness vs darkness in the show’s plot. It’s offensive to the rules that our brains subconsciously follow when parsing titles.

More specifically, the phrase Turn Off is just that–a literal “turn off.” I put the picture of the light switch in this article mostly as a cheap joke, but it actually illustrates my point. In English, the phrase “turn off” almost always carries a negative meaning. People talk about their “turn-offs” on online dating profiles, and they are not things you want associated with a musical. “Turn off the lights,” beyond the literal meaning of deactivating electrical illumination, implies shutting down or closing operations, sometimes for good. This, too, is not an idea you want associated with a musical or, for that matter, anything that’s supposed to be rousing and exciting.

And the final insult to injury? The fact that this nonsense, depressing phrase, “Turn Off The Dark,” is paired with one of the most iconic, effective, and evocative titles ever conceived:

 

Spider-Man.

Conclusion

So there you have it. When we are talking about Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, we are talking about gender politics, the economy, and the curious ability for a title to kill the work of art that it adorns.

Okay, fine, we’re also talking about the injuries and the fact that Bono and The Edge wrote some crappy music for this show. In addition to gender politics, the economy, and the WORST TITLE FOR ANYTHING EVER.

Readers: what do you think? Is Julie Taymor getting a hard time because she’s a woman? Should that $65 million been spent on cops and teachers? Can you think of a worse title than Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark? Sound off in the comments.

28 Comments on “What We Talk About When We Talk About “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark””

  1. pureblood-3 #

    I’ve been amazed at the lack of comments on the horrific title. I thought the musical was “Turn OF the Dark” when I first read it, like maybe the extra F was a typo. Even THAT would be better than the real thing.

    Now I must go and check out Terriers.

     
  2. Robert Frank #

    Taymor’s prime directives as a teller of any Spider-Man story were simple: serve the public interest, protect the franchise, uphold the ideals that with great power comes great responsibility. She failed all three in order to complete a secret fourth directive. I assume that it is something along the lines of “use ‘Spider-Man’ to serve the ego of Julie Taymor.”

     
  3. Steven Sousa #

    Any discussion of terrible titles must begin with Episode 2: Attack of the Clones.

     
    • fenzel #

      I always thought the discussion of terrible titles started with Jaws: The Revenge.

      Because there’s something visceral and awesome about it (you even have the actual use of the tagline, “This Time, It’s Personal,” but it’s also just ridiculous, because, you know, Jaws is a fish and incapable of vengeance.

      The notion that Jaws might be following the main characters by sea as they fly to the Bahamas in an airplane makes the title seem more awkward, but it’s probably not fair to turn to that kind of contect (because then almost all movie titles are just terrible).

      My favorite movie title, even though it went straight to video and late-night cable, is probably – _Darkman 3: Die, Darkman, Die_. It seems to uniquely communicate the frustration on behalf of both the antagonists and the filmmakers with the unlikely persistence and invincibility of the protagonist.

       
      • Redem #

        There always Aliens vs predator :Requiem who seem to have plug Requiem in its title solely to make the acronym “AVP:R” so that people knew it was a r rated movie after the cold shoulder given to AVP and its PG-13

        I for one think the reasons the incoming batman movie is named rises is because the acronym become TDKR and become the same as “the dark knight returns”

         
      • Dan #

        What about “The Inferno 2: Purgatorio!”

        Just kidding.

         
      • Gab #

        I think the title Jaws 2: The Revenge is nonsensical simply because the shark frikkin’ dies in the first one. So who is enacting revenge? Its babies? Maybe, but meh. At least other horror movies end with the ambiguous, did-the-killer-actually-die shot often enough to justify an implicit grudge in subsequent titles. But I’ve never seen any of the Jaws sequels, so I suppose it may work…

         
    • Brimstone #

      “Any discussion of terrible titles must begin with Episode 2: Attack of the Clones.”

      and the worst Spider-Man story was the Clone Saga

       
    • Valatan #

      The worst part about that was the fact that THE CLONES DON’T ATTACK. George Lucas literally had two plot points to do in the prequels–have clone wars, and have Anikin turn from a Jedi into a Sith. But those two things take up maybe 30 minutes of 4 and a half hours of a movie.

       
  4. Redem #

    The lack of complaint about the title is because we were too confuse about it to comment

     
  5. Brian #

    I had a knee jerk reaction to the “Could this money have been spent better?” point, because it was spent on people’s employment and it seems like an unfair accusation of the entertainment industry that it’s spending is invalid when compared to cops and teachers. How is it’s spending more egregious then potato chip manufactures or all Pepsi products? Yeah, 65 mil would have been nice to give to cops and teachers, but that’s easy to say from this privileged hind sight position that that money was poorly invested. But I’m not sure if it’s really a Sophie’s Choice between 65 mil goes to cops and teachers or people playing dress up and prancing around.

    Turn off the Dark could have been a huge hit, it looked like one on paper and had the raw resources to be. It’s making seems racked with hubris now, but you could have said the same thing about a Batman reboot. It seems like Taymor is a scapegoat or straw man for Wall Street, a face we can actually hold accountable.

    Also, to be honest at the cost of invaliding my thoughts forever -and not trying a Armond White, Turn off the Dark was kinda a cool title. If the The Dark Knight sequel had that title I would think it was bad ass and poetic, and if that makes me a simpleton so be it.

     
    • Lee #

      To be clear, I’m not advocating the point about the money being more wisely spent on cops and firefighters, nor am I saying that expensive Broadway shows are inherently wasteful resources. Broadway brings a lot of tourists to NYC, employs a lot of people, and is in general a very important part of the economy here. I’m more presenting it as the way that people are “underthinking” the musical when it comes to the news.

      Props for the Armond White reference.

      Lastly, I’m curious to know why you think “Turn Off The Dark” is a cool title–is it the visceral appeal? Is it somehow evocative of the mystery and danger of a superhero’s adventures?

       
      • Brian #

        Not so much mystery and danger as encouraging optimism, Light(optimism, altruism) vs. Dark(nihilism, selfishness). Superheros like Spider-Man are designed to inspire confidence in and define what makes humanity worth while, bringing light in darkness and not fighting darkness with darkness.

        Simplistic and naive, yeah, but the affect of the phrase “Turn Off the Dark” is dependent on context, if it was the title to a chapter in Watchmen, say a Rorschach chapter, it would have ironic and affective tones because the story attached is about the disastrous applicability of that naive absolute world view in the real world. I’m admitting that the phrase is inherently naive, but so is Spider-Man, it’s not anymore campy than the concept of Spider-Man himself. That could have been leveraged to ironic effect. Inglourious Basterds did this brilliantly, where they had a blood thirsty trailer hook you, then the movie itself was 90% talking and called you on your blood lust and exorcised it.

         
        • Brian #

          I guess I’m saying the title failed because the story failed, and people read that into the title. Sure it’s not the best title, but I don’t think it’s all that bad. I think people were on the fence about it and when they heard the production was a disaster and the story of the production became what a disaster it is then everyone wanted their pound of flesh and turned anything and everything associated with it into fodder for that disaster narrative.

           
  6. Tulse #

    I think it is a huge stretch to suggest that the criticism of the show and Taymor is based on sexism. Prior to some recent mis-steps, Taymor was seen as a genius, a enfant terrible with a unique vision, and Lion King, based on a frickin’ Disney cartoon, was hailed as the freshest creation for Broadway musicals in ages. For a while she was seen as the potential star of contemporary musical theatre. It was when her later projects suggested that her reach exceeded her grasp, such as Across the Universe and, most recently, The Tempest, that questions arose about her actual ability to deliver on her alleged talent, and that was well before S:TotD. And it should be noted that Taymor made gender a major part of The Tempest by casting Helen Mirren as Prospera, and despite the lukewarm reviews of that film, the complaints were generally not about the cross-gender casting.

     
    • Tom Houseman #

      I remember when Taymor got into a fight with her Across the Universe producer over the budget and the length of the film. As far as I can recall, pretty much everyone took her side, saying that it was a case of the artist vs. the money man.

       
  7. Jsorell #

    The problems with the Spiderman musical (I will not refer to the full title for it is just too silly to type) are multitude. Everything about it ruins the particular joys of Spiderman; whether from the comics, the various television adaptations or the popular films. Let us try and take this step by step. Spiderman; well known, popular, bankable. Broadway; expensive, difficult, shifts demographic perspective to specific niche. Julie Taymor; specific style of direction. Expensive, convoluted. Musical: Extremely difficult, pretentious. Produced by 2/4 members of U2: Exceedingly Pretentious. There is no logical causality to bring us from point 1 (Spiderman) to point 5 (U2.)
    The very idea is a parody of itself; an overblown pustule of modern capitalistic Western entertainment so hideous it seems like something out of a Thomas Pynchon novel. Doesn’t it seem like a Pynchon concept? “A pair of aging rock stars put on an elaborate musical based on a popular science fiction comic hero of the day and t’was the most expensive production ever put on by free-thinking humans. Most of the cast was wounded in the production and it burned down before opening day.” On second thought, that is definitely a Douglas Adams concept.
    Reality has become a parody of itself. Rejoice.

     
    • Brimstone #

      i dunno… the rock opera bit works. i like my comic books like i like my music: over the top. but why didn’t they get Green Day to do it?

       
      • Lee #

        That actually would have been great. I saw “American Idiot,” the musical that actually had Green Day songs, and though it was far from perfect, it was high energy and a lot of fun. That kind of music has the right balance of angst, energy, and playfulness for a superhero story which, IMHO, U2 doesn’t.

         
    • Szymaa #

      I think you hit on the key word, Pretension. From the moment I heard that such a musical was being created by Ms. Taymor, the first thing I thought was “She’s only getting this thing made because she’s Julie Taymor, and while The Lion King may have been the freshest thing to hit Broadway in a long time, she’s probably been so constantly reminded of her greatness that now she feels she can do no wrong.”

      And it bears considering, just how large a demographic is ‘Musical-Theater-loving Spiderman fan’?

       
      • Brian #

        In the play they make fun of that demographic fact, according to that Slate review the play starts with a “Geek Chorus” made of die-hard orthodox Spidey fans which then get made fun of for being so orthodox, the play then deconstructs most everything die-hard fans would love. So I think they did consider how large that demo was, accepted it’s negligible and wrote something else.

        Sure, the “musical theater loving Spiderman fan” demo is small. But Lee even mentioned that Broadway is a tourist attraction. Googling an article about “Turn off the Dark” I found an article playing up the international audience attendance, in the side bar for other articles was one about Taymor’s The Lion King touring Madrid.

        It reminds me of that cracked.com article 5 Hollywood secrets why most movies suck. Quote: “Everybody chuckled at how over-the-top stupid 2012 was. And it did a “meh” $166 million in American box office. Overseas? It made $604 million.”

         
  8. Brimstone #

    I just wish it was more like Spider Man: Rock Reflections of a Superhero – the awesome 70s concept album about Spider-Man

     
  9. Lee #

    Some more general thoughts on the musical that may not have been captured in either my podcast ramblings or this article.

    (This was originally posted on an article on Slashfilm)

    I saw it this past weekend. A few thoughts:

    1) It’s not bad beyond redemption, nor is it a fundamentally flawed concept to begin with. The wire stunts are spectacular, and the Peter Parker/Spider-Man story that we’re all familiar with has the right mix of levity and melodrama that makes a good musical. Set design is also impressive.

    2) The second half is just as off-the-rails bad as the reviews make it out to be. And if it’s true that the insane Arachne sub-plot is the product of Julie Taymor’s imagination, then she needs to go right now and someone not high on their own supply needs to rewrite large portions of the book, pronto.

    3) If you’re passing through NYC and want to take in a great Broadway show, avoid this like the plague. Take your hard-earned money and spend it on another show. If you live in NYC, have seen a lot of musical theater, or are the type that likes to rubber-neck at creative disasters like “Troll 2″ or “Showgirls,” AND can afford the high ticket price, then see it before they rework the show again. In its current form, it is a spectacular trainwreck of a production on a scale you’ve probably never seen before.

     
  10. Gab #

    Comment:I think Taymor is right in being concerned about a woman entering the comic book world as a figure of authority, even if it’s behind the scenes and as a creative force as opposed to part of the story. Of course, that doesn’t mean her handling of it worked out, but I can sympathize (and empathize) with where she’s coming from. I think the problem develops because, as it seems (and I’m not disputing this at all), the execution was poor. If done well, that Aracne subplot thing could probably have been pretty awesome*- but it wasn’t, so it sucked. But I do think maybe what started as a feeling that the story itself is terrible could easily be developing into veiled sexism. I know anecdotal evidence is pretty awful, but flippant comments like, “That’s what happens when a woman tries to do comics,” have reached my ears- and even if in jest, that’s… well… ugh. But if regular, “nice” people are going to say those things in public, what’s to say some of the public/ published/ serious criticisms out there aren’t at least unwittingly fueled by reactions to Taymor as a woman in the backs of their minds? Or the people blogging about it? Or, worse, if they recognize these feelings and aren’t saying them blatantly, but are using them as impetus to be so critical. And I’m not saying you, Lee, are being sexist about it, but rather that maybe some viewers went in predisposed to hate it or are letting sexism even they may not realize is lurking permeate into their overall negative opinions.

    Question: I listened to the applicable podcast the day or so after it went live, so if you answered this there, my apologies. BUT…

    That “Geek Chorus”? Was it meant to serve as the chorus of ancient Greek and Roman theater? Or was it just there in the beginning and that’s it?

    *But perhaps only awesome to an even smaller niche than comic book fans. I wonder if maybe part of why it’s so is awful because there isn’t that big of an Ancient Greek Mythology Fanbase out there. And if the Geek Chorus thing was, indeed, a bigger part of the story, perhaps (some of) the failures of those two elements are related- maybe audience members didn’t realize that the Muses in Disney’s Hurcules were modeled after the same thing.

     
  11. Zeszes #

    *SPOILER ALERT*
    Gab – The Geek Chorus seems to be there to cover long scene changes. Also they sum up what we have just seen, which is frequently necessary because:
    a) Stuff that shouldn’t be sung, is. Bono and the Edge don’t seem to get musical theater songs. These usually build to a hand, and must propel plot and/or character. S:TotD songs don’t do that, they just state a thesis, and sort of end or peter out. The music’s really unmemorable. Eg there’s a scene where the military push Osborne to allow them to use his tech for military purposes. He says no and resolves to prove its peaceful value. Later there is a huge number with like 30 dancers where the army guys and Osborne play out the exact same beat for several minutes. I thought he was going to kowtow so the song would have a plot point, but it doesn’t.
    b) Stuff that should be sung, isn’t. There’s a scene where MJ enters and in dialogue, tells Peter she is scared because Spider-Man has vanished and is needed. He suggests breaking off their engagement (secretly intending to become Spider-Man again, which he has had to quit, because Arachne took his powers). She sings for several minutes about how scared she is. In dialogue, he confesses he’s Spider-Man. Lights down. Lights up: MJ is gone, we discover, kidnaped by Arachne. The song should cover all these actions and be a duet half the length, leading into Peter resolving to save her. As is, it’s just her declaring a state of being: fear, and is therefore boring where the pace should be picking up.
    c) Half-rhymes or non-rhymes may be OK in country and pop. Not in musical theater, where the audience is trying to keep up live. If you end a line with HERE and the next line is set up to rhyme, then ends with FEEL (that’s one; there are others), the audience spends the next couplet going “whuh…?” and trying to figure out what they just heard, instead of moving on with you. If you are going to not rhyme, then don’t, but don’t try to rhyme or sort-of rhyme and then fail. Sondheim himself says so.
    d) Diction is very poor. I truly could not hear whole sections (making rhymes even more important).
    e) Arachne sings an entire song about how she wants shoes because MJ has them and that’s why Spider-Man prefers her. Seriously? Then her minions come in and sing about shoes. Audience members were saying out loud to one another, “What on earth are we watching?”

    The composer/lyricists are most of the problem, because it is their work that renders the overly complex plot inexplicable. Things like vanquishing villain A at the intermission then villain B in the second half don’t help; it feels episodic and disjointed. It seems the show WAS four hours and in trying to get it to a manageable length they cut it. Someone has gotten so close to the material, they cannot see that it is now incoherent. There is also a lack of unity of design; some is comic book style, some tries to be realistic, some is stylized in other ways – the show does not make a choice and stick with it.

    The single cheapest fix would be to bring in someone like Elton John or Tim Rice to completely replace the score, plus get an unknown to sharpen up the book. That would elevate a bad AND dull show to watchable, without any plot changes, meaning all the expensive tech stuff could be unaltered. If all the names passed, then fine; accept that Spidey’s name alone will have to be enough. There are plenty of younger composer/lyricists who would do a better job and consider 100K a big payday.

    As far as this OP, re gender, one point worth making is that MJ has to be rescued from both the Green Goblin and Arachne. She has no agency and exists as just a pretty face. Cutting Arachne and making MJ a proper character whose wily acting skills enable her to assist Spidey in defeating the GG would cut the show to a decent length, and put focus back on GG, who’s a more interesting and fully-realized villain. Aunt May could be fleshed out too, for another strong female, or Norman Osborne’s wife could exist for some other reason than to die and motivate his revenge. Arachne feels like a token “strong woman”; her motivations are pretty incomprehensible. And I say all that as someone who often laments the lack of decent female roles out there.

    One very memorable bit was when MJ said Spider-Man was awesome and could do many things she could not. Peter replies, “Well you can star in a Broadway musical; Spider-Man can’t do that.” The audience laughed – I fear, in agreement.

    That said, awesome flying sequences.

     
  12. Janesaw #

    You see a company hiring a gratuitous number of people for a lousy show, I see a large number of theater professionals like myself who, thanks to this lousy show, have decently-paying work (which they otherwise wouldn’t in this crappy economy), giving them a small reprieve from watching their bank accounts dwindle and wondering how they’re going to pay the mortgage this month. Of course, when it ultimately folds they’ll be looking for work again, but it’s better than nothing.
    Jobs in the arts are JOBS. Money going into the arts keeps people employed – dressers, technicians, puppeteers, even the janitors at the Foxwoods Theater.
    I’m not saying I’m in favor of all the hype surrounding these big-budget extravaganzas, but they make all the difference in the world to people in this field who are sick of living on Ramen noodles.

     
  13. yellojkt #

    I see what Julie Taymor was trying to do and it is a rather noble failure. She was trying to subvert the comic superhero genre by pointing out that it is merely a pale shadow of classical mythology. It is no coincidence the word ‘mythos’ is oven used in comic book criticism.

    The phrase ‘Turn Off The Dark’ does get used in the second act when the entire city (or the city inside Peter Parker’s hallucination, it’s not quite clear which) is plunged into darkness which Spider-Man has to rescue it from.

    The U2 music is only the third worst aspect of the show, behind the incomprehensible storyline and the Sid and Marty Krofftish villain puppets. And that is astoundingly faint praise. The best riff in show is when they go to a bar and classic U2 is being played.

    The wirework and the stunts are incredible, but it still comes off as second-rate Cirque de Soliel.

    All that said, the show plays amazingingly well to family audiences who overlook its myriad flaws because it has Spider-Man and he lands right in front of them multiple times. Imagine the success this show would be if it were actually good.