Spider-Man Musical Has First Preview Show, is Kind of a Disaster

Senior Editor
11.29.10 16 Comments

Most logical people would probably say to themselves, “a $65-million Broadway musical about Spider-man with songs by U2?  That’s a brilliant idea!”.  And yet, surprisingly, things haven’t been going so smoothly for Julie Taymor’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.  The first of the preview shows, originally scheduled for January 2010, then pushed to February, finally happened last night, and just one weekend before December.  Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch.  Haha, just kidding.

– After a two-week delay in performances already this month, which sucked up about $4 million, the producers decided that on Sunday night the show would go on.

– After beginning at 6:54 p.m. — 24 minutes late, mostly because of 1,900 people taking their seats — the show unfolded for 30 minutes with few of the special effects that have been the talk of Broadway this fall.

– At 7:23 p.m., an aerial scene began in Peter Parker’s bedroom to the delight of some audience members — yet it was halted two minutes later with the first of four pauses in Act I, apparently to free the lead actor, Reeve Carney (who plays Peter Parker and is one of those playing Spider-Man), from an aerial harness.

– The fourth and final pause at the end of Act I was the worst glitch of the night by far. Spider-Man had just flown and landed onstage with the musical’s heroine, Mary Jane Watson (played by Jennifer Damiano), in his arms. He was then supposed to zoom off toward the balcony seating area, a few hundred feet away. Instead, a harness and cables lifted Spider-Man several yards up and over the audience, then stopped. A production stage manager, C. Randall White, called for a halt to the show over the sound system, apparently in hopes of fixing and re-doing the stunt.
Crew members, standing on the stage, spent 45 seconds trying to grab Spider-Man by the foot, as the audience laughed and oohed. When they finally caught him, Mr. White announced intermission, and the house lights came on.

$65 million and they can’t get someone to fly around the stage attached to a harness?  (The production budget for Kick-Ass, by comparison, was $30 million).  How much does the circus cost?  I bet it’s a lot less than $65 million, and that sh*t has live elephants.

– The intermission began at 8:19 p.m.; it was still under way 34 minutes later when some in the audience began to clap in unison, as they passed their two-hour mark inside the theater. Mr. White, the production stage manager, then said over the microphone, “I know, guys, I know, I beg your patience,” and the clapping stopped.

– Act II began shortly after 9 p.m. and unfolded fairly smoothly until about 50 minutes later, when Mr. White called for a pause. After a few minutes, as some audience members were stretching, a woman in the audience suddenly shouted, “I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I feel like a guinea pig today — I feel like it’s a dress rehearsal.” She was met with a chorus of boos. The performance resumed a moment later; the show ended at 10:09 p.m.

“I feel like a guinea pig”?  Jeez, even the heckling is lame.

– Marc Tumminelli, 30, who runs a Manhattan acting school for children, said he was concerned that the musical’s problems were too fundamental to be corrected quickly. “The story-telling is really unclear and I found it hard to understand exactly what was going on and why certain things were happening,” Mr. Tumminelli said.

– Mr. Cohl [a producer] has approved discounts for some of the tickets sold for preview performances. Many other audience members were still paying $140 or more on Sunday night. [NYTimes]

A hundred and forty bucks to watch a three-hour dress rehearsal with broken effects?  I don’t know much about Broadway, but this would lead me to believe it’s kind of like one of those vintage clothing stores that charge hipsters 80 bucks for one of my dead grandpa’s shirts that I donated to Goodwill.

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