5 great things about ‘Spider-Man’ (yes, really)
Daily Bugle News Flash! Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is not the best musical ever written. However, the venomous reviews and general bad press seem to be overshadowing the aspects that director Julie Taymor and her creative team have gotten right. Here are five reasons why Spider-Man is worth the money.
1. Flying: This is the spectacle that the show rests on, and it is something to be seen. Aerial designers Scott Rogers and Jaque Paquin succeeded in making me feel like a little kid again, yearning for the ability to fly. I’m sure I wasn’t the only gaping-mouthed patron who was left insanely jealous of the actors that got to perform the aerial stunts. Despite very-visible cables (synthetic spider silk hasn’t been successfully manufactured in large quantities yet), Spidey and Green Goblin slingshot around the Foxwoods Theatre with shocking fluidity. They even reach every side of the two mezzanines, so that no audience block is left out of the action.
2. Sets: Scenic designer George Tsypin’s has created a cartoonish, sometimes whimsical world for Peter Parker and his enemies. But Tsypin’s real achievement with his designs is with the unique use of angles and perspective. We’re treated to two views of New York’s famous Chrysler Building: a standard tip-of, head-on shot and then a mind-bending aerial view, gazing down to the taxi-lined streets below. The Brooklyn Bridge juts out toward the audience with a dizzying height illusion. Climactic-moment scenes aside, Tsypin even turns a ho-hum stroll for Peter (Reeve Carney) and Mary Jane (Jennifer Damiano) to their Queens row homes into a direction-shifting stunner.
3. Arachne: A character that strays from the comic-book mythology of Spider-Man, Arachne is the goddess of spiders who bites Peter, giving him his powers. Played with ethereal relish by T.V. Carpio, Arachne’s songs have harmonic flourishes from the Middle East and Carpio’s vocals are among the strongest in the cast. Yet Arachne gets some of the most-visually stunning scenes. Her origin story is set to the backdrop of female “spiders” swinging from white drapes, weaving a tapestry. The look is the closest Taymor comes to her Lion King visuals, and it’s a welcome throwback. Arachne’s costume (designed by Eiko Ishioka) utilizes some seriously creepy spider legs. Furthermore, the sizeable costume makes it even more of a thrill when the spider goddess flies over the audience, in sequences that were a clear audience favorite at the performance I attended.
4. Lighting: Donald Holder’s lighting design washes the gorgeous sets in deep reds and blues. Furthermore, Holder’s collaboration with projection designer Kyle Cooper creates some of the more stunning uses of video seen on Broadway. Massive LED video panels traverse the expansive Foxwoods stage, flashing the menacing faces of Spider-Man’s villains at in-your-face perspectives. It’s an effect so immersive that it feels like it’s going to swallow the audience.
5. Ensemble: Make no mistake about it—this show is exhausting to perform. It has already proven injurious four times. The ensemble does the majority of the flying and fighting in the show. Keep in mind that there are about seven different Spider-Mans that swing, tumble, and backflip their way through the two-hour and 45-minute runtime. The choreography is jolting and abundant. Despite the complex choreography and cumbersome costumes (this is a show about spiders—there are lots of fake legs), the ensemble performed with high energy and precision. With past headlines as proof, these actors are putting their safety on the line every performance and delivering hard. They are the real superheroes of Spider-Man.
Have you seen Spider-Man, Rushers? Do you agree with my take on this high-flying, shape-shifting spectacle? What were your favorite aspects of the show? Do you think the production has received a fair shake? Leave your Spidey sense in the comments below!