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“Spider-Man” musical massacred by early reviews

By Sean O’Connell Julie Taymor’s Broadway production “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” has had the rockiest road on its way to the stage.

It’s about to get worse.

Two official reviews hit the Internet as the trouble-ridden stage show continues its previews at Foxwoods Theater in New York City. They’re brutal.

“The sheer ineptitude of this show, inspired by the Spider-Man comic books, loses its shock value early,” Ben Brantley writes in the NY Times. “After 15 or 20 minutes, the central question you keep asking yourself is likely to change from ‘How can $65 million look so cheap?’ to ‘How long before I’m out of here?’”

Brantley went on, at length, to explain that the audience only seemed interested in spotting a tragedy involving the high-flying actors attached to harnesses in Taymor’s show, which uses original music by Bono and The Edge from U2.

“Finally, near the end of the first act … calamity struck,” Barnes wrote. “An honest-to-gosh, show-stopping glitch occurred, just as the title character of this new musical was about to vanquish or be vanquished by the evil Green Goblin. Never fully explained ‘mechanical difficulties’ were announced by an amplified voice (not immediately distinguishable from the other amplified voices we had been hearing for what felt like forever), as the actors in the scene deflated before our eyes. And for the first time that night something like genuine pleasure spread through the house. That glee soon took the form of spontaneous, nigh-ecstatic applause, a sound unheard in the previous hour.”

It isn’t much better in the pages of the Hollywood Reporter, which dismissed “Dark” as “chaotic, dull and a little silly,” then went after Taymor by stating the musical is “an ungainly mess of a show that smacks of out-of-control auteurial arrogance.”

THR critic David Rooney does acknowledge that this is a review of a preview, but the death knell has been ringing for “Spider-Man” for months now, and the production appears to be beyond small fixes.

“Sure, there’s still five pre-opening weeks to keep tinkering, but the point at which any savvy producer would have sent for script doctors is long past,” Rooney writes. “While much has been said about the decision to begin performances without an ending in place, this ‘rock circus drama’ has no beginning or middle either.”

But it does have an end, and it doesn’t sound like a happy one. “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” reportedly will open on Broadway on March 15. We’ll believe that when we see it.

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