It won't officially open until January 11 but Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark debuted on Broadway last night in previews and let's just say Peter Parker needs to work out a few kinks in his webbing.
The musical had been plagued by delays for almost a year, not the least of which was running out of money, but as they say "the show must go on" and sure enough, it finally did. Only not as perfectly as anyone involved would have hoped. The New York Times reported the show stopping five times throughout the performance due to technical difficulties. And when I say technical difficulties, I don't mean someone's microphone cutting out, I mean stars of the show including Spider-Man himself Reeve Carney was left dangling from wires just feet above the audience.
"The fourth and final pause at the end of Act I was the worst glitch of the night by far. Spider-Man had just flown and landed onstage with the musical’s heroine, Mary Jane Watson (played by Jennifer Damiano), in his arms," said The New York Times, "He was then supposed to zoom off toward the balcony seating area, a few hundred feet away. Instead, a harness and cables lifted Spider-Man several yards up and over the audience, then stopped. A production stage manager, C. Randall White, called for a halt to the show over the sound system, apparently in hopes of fixing and re-doing the stunt."
As if that wasn't bad enough, the show, which started late, was met with vocal disapproval from an audience member who was seemingly fed up. "Act II began shortly after 9 p.m. and unfolded fairly smoothly until about 50 minutes later, when Mr. White called for a pause. After a few minutes, as some audience members were stretching, a woman in the audience suddenly shouted, 'I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I feel like a guinea pig today — I feel like it’s a dress rehearsal.' She was met with a chorus of boos."
With all the money put into Turn Off the Dark ($65 million, the most expensive Broadway budget ever) and the combined musical talent of U2's Bono, The Edge and Tony Award-winning director Julie Taymor you'd think the show would have been better prepared by now. Although Carney thought the performance was a success, he revealed one reason why things didn't go so smoothly.
"We all tried our best to stay focused,” he told Broadway.com after the show. "That was the first time we’ve gone all the way through the show. We were writing some new stuff today. Now that we’ve run through it, I’m excited to know where it stands." The FIRST TIME they went all through the show? Writing new stuff TODAY? My middle school performance of Cinderella was better prepared.
Although many audience members were disappointed (some even asking for refunds) it's important to note that the show is in previews which means hitches are expected. It wasn't a total bust though, several of the smaller show-goers were impressed. "Parts of it were really exciting,” a six-year-old Jack Soldano told the New York Times. "I’ve never seen people flying before."
What's your opinion? Are huge technical failures expected for a new show or do you think the show should have been perfected before debuting? This is Broadway after all. Were you planning on seeing it and has your decision changed since hearing the reviews?