Spider-Man Turn off the Dark
Nearly a year overdue, the highly anticipated mega-musical finally lands on Broadway.
Wed Oct 20 2010
A rendering of the Oscorp Labs set in Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark
Its previews don't begin until Sunday, November 28, but is already the stuff of legend. Its director is Julie Taymor, whose unorthodox staging of transformed the notion of musical theater in 1997. Its score is by U2 rock giants Bono and the Edge. Its budget, reportedly in the $60 million range, is the largest in theater history. And its protagonist—well, he's one of the best-known comic book icons of our time.
Yet a web of gossip has surrounded Spider-Man since its inception, with skeptics pointing to well-publicized stumbles—delays (including a last-minute one this month), recasting, changes to the production team—as evidence of danger to come. Playwright Glen Berger, who cowrote the show's script with Taymor, isn't thrown by the naysayers. "We know what we have, so it's barely a distraction," Berger says. "We know what needs to happen in order to make this thing fly—literally and figuratively."
To avoid the potential campiness of a crooning crime fighter, the creative team chose to situate Queens student Peter Parker at the heart of the story. "Spider-Man in the Spider-Man costume never sings," says Berger. "He can't; he has a mask on. So we're looking at a human story, and using truly surprising rock music to convey emotion." While some may question a comic book set to music, Berger adds that before The Lion King opened, a Broadway musical about African animals might have sounded ridiculous too. Of course, Taymor's staging quickly silenced concerns.
Children will appreciate that Spider-Man's coming-of-age narrative is a universal one, akin to rite-of-passage ceremonies all over the globe. "It's a story about a young man who's learning to cross over from childhood to being a responsible member of the community," Berger observes. "The story of Spider-Man is like one big Bar Mitzvah."
It shouldn't come as a shock, then, if Bar Mitzvah--age kids end up enjoying the show the most. "We're telling people that the age range is eight and up," Berger says. "But I think the sweet spot is the 12- or 13-year-old. I've shown the designs to and played the music for a few that age—and they have flipped out."
begins previews on November 28 at the Foxwoods Theatre.
Meet the cast
Photograph: Reeve Carney
Name: Reeve Carney
Role: Peter Parker and Spider-Man
Kid appeal: Living every kid-rocker's dream, Carney fronts an indie band that bears his name.
Photograph: Michael Tammaro
Photograph: Kristin Hoebermann
Name: Patrick Page
Role: Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin
Kid appeal: Having starred in The Lion King and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, he's got mega cred.