Inspired by over 40 years of Marvel Comic Books and the genius of Stan Lee, and all the technological enhanced world of the theater could come up with was the trouble ridden production of “Spider-man: Turn off the Dark”? They should retitle it: “Spider-man: Turn off the Lights, Please”.
Photo by Flickr user Dennis Beck / Broadway Tour
Your beloved Spider-man from the comics is a teenage boy bitten by radioactive spider, boy has amazing powers, boy fights crime, boy finds girl, boy has anguish and boy triumphs in the end. The comic books are a masterful depiction of a teenage human boy with all the angst, insecurities and pangs of approaching adulthood with supernatural powers, tempered by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May’s down to earth advice and care.
These qualities are the fuel that nurtures his prospective of his constant fight between good and evil, page after page, leaving you with the anticipation of wondering how Peter Parker will triumph in the end against human foes with enhanced abilities — by experiments gone awry and by their own hands. Peter learns quickly that with great power, comes great responsibility, as he juggles the demands of his school, home and relationship with the girl next door, Mary Jane Watson, by keeping New York City safe from the likes of the Green Goblin and the sinister Dr. Octopus.
Bowing to the current pop culture phenomenon, “Spider-man: Turn off the Dark,” is a basically a comic book premise turned into a musical circus, with two-dimensional characters, anticlimactic plots, boring lyrics and stilted dialogue with terrible jokes. The spectacular sets and scenery are the show’s redeeming feature: a magnificent vision seen from the very top of the Chrysler Building, with a bird’s eye view of all of Manhattan. There, you can imagine Spider-man, crouched with anticipation and ready to leap upon the buildings with his web shooters blaring like the gun fighters of the Old West. Villains beware!
According to Telecharge, the reviews of this phenomenon are mixed, with families of young children praising the stunts and scenery to baby boomers who grew up with the comic books lambasting the play as boring and a waste of their money. Comic book fans are a fanatical lot and any deviation from the pages of their childhood treasured Spider-man will invoke strong dislike for any new attempt at retelling his story.
This overhauled, troubled production learned this the hard way. Without being able to take the show on a tour because of the special effects and technology utilized within the script, the show had to open within the confines of the Fox Theater. Therefore, it limited the ability of the directors and producers from obtaining audience reactions and working out the kinks before opening to a live crowd.
Special effects, such as flying on wires and the flow of movement are hard to duplicate on a theatrical stage because you can see the wires as the characters leap from one place to the next and the live streets of New York City are one-dimensional cardboard pieces. Your imagination at the magical wonders of Spider-man souring through the streets by the thin line of spider webbing and leaping onto the building tops in pursuit of the villains is suspended by the limited area and strict rules of the theater.
It is sad! So please, Spider-man: Turn off the Lights!
Ava grew up with three brothers who were die-hard comic book fans. She knows more than she wants to know about Marvel and DC.