This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Broadway musical “Spiderman: Turn on the Dark.” Yes, Spiderman has done comics, cartoons, movies and now he graces the Great White Way. We had the super cheap seats (it was the only way I could convince mom to buy the tickets) so we sat under the balcony, only missing out on a little high flying fun, but that was okay.
If you know nothing about the musical, here’s the quick low down. At first I was like…Peter Parker? Singing? Really? But then I heard it was directed by Julie Taymor (Lion King on Broadway, Titus with Anthony Hopkins, Across the Universe-the Beatles themed movie musical) and the music was written by Bono and The Edge of U2. So a rock musical with crazy aesthetics. I can do that!
The musical was supposed to open about a year ago. But Ms Taymor had such an ambitious goal…she had so much rigging installed in the theatre and made it so that Spiderman could websling and the Goblin could fly. There were lots of accidents and people actually got hurt, but that’s the topic for another blog. Bottom line there is that I saw what they’re coining “Spiderman 2.0″ because they changed up the story, made things safer and added new music. No accidents since. Read the wikipedia synopsis for the original version…though, after reading it, I like this version much better.
So now for my synopsis and review! It’s long but with lots of pictures from the souvenir program…Spoilers ahead!
This is a Spiderman origin story, similar to other versions, but very original in its own right. It starts with Peter Parker doing a class presentation on the Greek goddess Arachne, who challenged Athena to a weaving contest. Arachne created beautiful stuff but wove in blashemous images into her tapestry, pissing off Athena. Arachne shamefully hung herself since she enraged the goddess, but Athena transformed her as she was dying into a giant spider who would weave forever.
The images in this section are beautiful and the involvement of Arachne in the Spiderman story just gives him a higher power to drive him. I think in previous versions of the show she was almost a love interest, but here she was the “spider” version of divine intervention. She was a very unique perspective and also great contrast in her elegance and beauty to the “BAM!” “WHAM!” “KAPOW!” imagery of the rest of the show.
Next scene Peter gets beat up at school. Big surprise. Flash Thompson and his lackies were amusing. Great slapstick choreography. His relationship with Mary Jane is already eons ahead of where it normally starts. They are close friends and she also has a slight crush on him, that gets developed into a full relationship rather quickly.
The class takes a field trip to Normon Osborn’s lab, where he is working on isolating useful animal genes in order to create a super-human serum. Interesting to note…Norman’s wife is alive (Emily Osborn, who traditionally in the comics is only referred to in memory as the mother of Harry Osborn who died before Harry was one year old) and they do not have a son (in fact, Norman asks her if she ever regretted not having a child and she said that their work was too important and all she wanted was him). Emily is a scientist as well and just as involved in the genome project, but you can tell she keeps him grounded, which just means that when he goes Gobby, she has to go. Later when Norman takes the serum and turns into Goblin, his wife is killed in the lab accident, thus every shred of good that was left of Norman is gone.
Obviously, during the lab field trip, Peter gets bitten by THE spider, goes home and has a cool scene where he bounces around the walls of his bedroom, discovering his powers. Interesting that this is the only real discovery scene for the powers…he just wakes up, ditches the glasses, webslings and then beats up all the bullies at school.
Peter decides he needs money to win over Mary Jane once and for all, so he finds the wrestling tournament and beats Bone Saw (which is a hysterical scene…he wrestles a gigantic inflatable man) and on his way home, he hears a shot and sees that Uncle Ben was killed in a car mugging. This is of course where he realizes “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.”
The next scene is Spiderman’s debut. Spidey webslings all over the stage, over the audience, takes out a bank robbery and saves a little old lady from being mugged. Very cool stylization and visuals. Then we move to the Daily Bugle where J. Jonah Jameson wants to brand Spidey a menace (see, lots of it is similar) and Parker gets a gig taking photos of Spidey. Then we switch to Norman taking the serum, killing his wife, and becoming Green Goblin. End of Act 1.
Top of Act 2 births the Sinister Six. Goblin decides to create his “children”…all were members of a rival company that he forced injections of his serum into. The Six includes: Carnage, Swarm, Electro, Lizard, Kraven the Hunter and Swiss Miss (a Broadway original…a chick fashioned after Swiss Army knives). They wreak havoc on the city and Goblin continually calls out to Spiderman…who he deems his “First Child” since he figures that the only way some kid can have spider like powers was from his super spider. And he also assumes that it is Peter Parker. (This is why this Norman didn’t have a son…an interesting development allowing him to search for the “child” he and his wife never had).
After this, it’s the typical Spidey drama (which was nice and comfortable…whereas in the earlier version of the show, things got complicated with Arachne demanding shit from Spidey, which was kind of unnecessary). He’s supposed to go to MJ’s show but doesn’t make it. He realizes again…with great power comes gr–yadda yadda (with help from his “divine intervention”…very trippy dream sequence). It wraps up with a kick ass battle in the air with Goblin and Spidey…the set is pretty impressive too, playing with visual perspective of the Chrysler building (putting the roads along the back wall and having the building jutting toward the audience so you’re looking down the side of the building) to make you think the battle is happening miles above the street. Spidey wins and in the end, he reveals himself as Peter to MJ and she decides she loves him no matter what and stays with him.
It’s really close to original lore, but it has it’s own Broadway spin. I like the Arachne character and I really like the Osborn family changes (both of which I thought as a die hard fan I would hate). The visuals were very cartoony…just like a comic book come to life. The music was good if you really like edgy rock music…it’s not your typical Broadway score. The costumes and set were absolutely stunning…I really appreciated the color, the masks…it had a very Japanese feel to it (very Noh theatre…and the set utilized a lot of tall panels that moved on tracks and were almost like room divider screens). Overall, I was very very satisfied with the show and I recommend it to every geek out there! Melvin loved it too, though he couldn’t afford any souvenirs except the program, so we checked out Etsy when we got home for Spiderman loot! Check it out
Spiderman 12 inches…
Spiderman Handmade …
Spiderman cake pops
Upcycled Vintage Co…