Last night was the first performance of the oft-delayed and massively expensive Spider-Man musical on Broadway, and we can all agree it was a smashing success, because no audience members, actors, or technicians were killed during the 3.5 hour performance. Sure, some wires fell on the crowd, and the show was stopped five times as performers dangled helplessly on wires, but what do you expect for your $55-$145 ticket, perfection? Yet the Post's Michael Riedel wasn't exactly amazed:
Last night's opening preview of Broadway's most expensive production ever, "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," was an epic flop as the $65 million show's high-tech gadgetry went completely awry amid a dull score and baffling script, theatergoers griped. Stunned audience members were left scratching their heads over the confusing plot—when they weren't ducking for cover from falling equipment and dangling actors at the Foxwoods Theatre on West 42nd Street, some said.
At various points, overhead stage wires dropped on the audience, scenery appeared on stage missing pieces—and the show's star was even left swaying helplessly over them midair during what was supposed to be the climatic end to the first act.
Before the curtain rose, the lead producer, Michael Cohl, took the stage to warn the audience that there would be delays and interruptions. But he also gushed, "I’m hellishly excited, and I can’t believe we’re actually here and it’s actually going to happen." There were four interruptions during Act I alone, the longest one occurring when actress Natalie Mendoza (who plays the villainess Arachne) hung 20 feet above the stage during a six-minute pause. And just before intermission, the Times reports that crew members spent 45 seconds trying to grab Spider-Man by the foot, "as the audience laughed and oohed."
During Act II, one audience member finally snapped during another delay, yelling, "I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I feel like a guinea pig today — I feel like it’s a dress rehearsal." But the criticism seems to extend beyond the technical difficulties, which producers have six weeks to fiddle with before the opening night in January. One of last night's guinea pigs tells the Times, "The story-telling is really unclear and I found it hard to understand exactly what was going on and why certain things were happening."
A tipster who wrote into Ain't it Cool News seconds this reaction, writing, "The story was by far the weakest element of the production. There was not much explanation between scenes, and I felt like to truly understand it, you needed to have seen the first two Spider-Man films... They need to work on having a more coherent plot... The music was totally not catchy, at least not to me." Another geek writes in to describe "a terrible script by Julie Taymor and Glen Berger, and an awful convoluted story that makes Peter Parker a boring and wooden character, kills what could have been a unique and interesting theatrical experience. It is a case of the theatrics and technical glitz getting in the way, even obliterating whatever story about a conflicted young man who feels a sense of responsibility to those he loves and his fellow man behind. I was underwhelmed and disappointed."