Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, the expensive and long-delayed Broadway musical about the Marvel superhero, gave its first public preview on Sunday night—and the results weren't pretty.
The good news? Nobody got killed during the first complete performance of the show at the Foxwoods Theatre in New York City on Sunday night, a minor miracle considering that there had already been several injuries during rehearsals due to the production's many elaborate flying stunts. The bad news? According to the reports that have surfaced, the show has a lot of problems to iron out before it officially opens in six weeks, and some of them may be unfixable.
Now, keep in mind that Sunday night's show and the next few weeks' performances are previews, which are essentially dress rehearsals that audiences are allowed to buy tickets for. They give the director and producers a chance to see how the show plays in front of an audience and to change or tweak things as they go along.
But the New York Times said that the show was wracked by a number of production delays, including a huge gaffe at the end of act one that left Spider-Man (played by Reeve Carney and several stuntmen) dangling above the audience for more than 10 minutes. Another actor, Natalie Mendoza as the villainess Arachne, was also left hanging in midair for six minutes during act two. There were at least four such delays during the first act and several more during the second, prompting the stage manager at one point to ask for patience over the public address system.
While the Times didn't review the show itself, it did interview audience members afterward, and they voiced frustration with the production. One, 30-year-old Marc Tumminelli, summed up his feelings: "The storytelling is really unclear, and I found it hard to understand exactly what was going on and why certain things were happening." Meanwhile, Sherry Lawrence, who runs a U2 fan site (Bono and the Edge from that band wrote the score), said she would hold off on recommending the show to her readers.
Sunday's performance ended up running three and a half hours, thanks to all the delays, with the New York Post reporting that audience members began complaining and walking out as the show dragged on. One woman called loudly, "I don't know how everyone else feels, but I feel like a guinea pig today—I feel like it's a dress rehearsal," although she was booed by other audience members. The Post also noted audience members grumbling about a "dull score," a "baffling script," missing sections of scenery and even equipment falling around them.
Collider, meanwhile, compiled a bunch of tweets from people who attended the show, with one calling it "awful, just awful...a huge disappointment," while another said the script was "basically incoherent." A third said that director Julie Taymor "forgot to include a story," although a fourth review was kinder, praising the sets, costumes, lighting and even the flying stunts when they worked, adding, "The show is not a complete mess. There is SOMETHING there."
But what? And can they find it in time for the show's official opening on Jan. 11, 2011? Or will the $60 million Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark become the biggest disaster in Broadway history?