Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spiderman Spins a Web of Delights

  Theater critics have taken to trashing Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark as it continues its endless previews to  opening day, next week on March 15 -- assuming it isn't again postponed. My family went with relatives a couple of weekends ago. In a word, I thought it was FABULOUS!
   It had everything I want out of an expensive Broadway show: over-the-top sets and theatrics with wonderful music and not a bad story line at all. After all, good does triumph evil.
Spider-Man: Music From And Inspired By The show was a combination of the circus, theater and rock concert -- all rolled into one. The acrobatics were literally over the top, as in over our heads. That alone was incredible and worth the ticket price. The show has become as well know for its tricks can go wrong as much as its tricks. Everything went right on our night, though there was that moment when Spiderman seemed to miss his footing as he landed on a second-story balcony platform. But he quickly scrambled to safety like a true spider-human.
   It was like the circus in that way. No one wishes for an accident to happen, of course. But the fact that it is a possibility -- and one you just might witness up close -- makes all those acts of teetering on high wires, tangling with tigers, racing on horses all the more exciting. Same here. And unlike the circus, all the action was done without any safety net, just cables. And cables wouldn't protect the stuntmen if they hit the balconies. We joked about wearing helmets.
  The show did a particularly wonderful job on sets, recreating the feel of the Big Apple and the battle between good and evil high above the skyscrapers. It also captured the comic book feel with it's pow! wham! splat! word bubbles, bright colors and spider walk up the walls.
  At the same time, it was a complex take on the Spiderman story with its base in Greek mythology and Greek tragedy, down to the comic chorus of teens who kept the dimmer among us apprised of the story line and balanced Spiderman's angst with silly jokes. I loved the little touches, like the girlfriend who acts in The Fly, another tale of metamorphosis. Or her self-doubt that she'd ever make it to Broadway. It wasn't perfect. It dragged in the second act, in part because of a sidebar of song and dance about a series of villains thought vanquished that reappear. But all in all, it was a wonderful evening of entertainment. And it has set a new standard for the Broadway spectacular. Go see it!

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