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Review Roundup: SPIDER-MAN on Broadway - All the Reviews!

Steven Suskin, Variety: After 10 playing weeks and some $12,500,000-worth of tickets, the attractions of "Spider-Man" are still in the spectacular physical production, and if the audience at Saturday's matinee preview was not standing and cheering, they still could be described as warmly appreciative. It's a work in progress, and creator Julie Taymor has been making changes through the preview period, and is reportedly planning to continue to rework the musical numbers (within the framework of the existing music and lyrics). Weaknesses lie with the book, music and lyrics, a kiss of death for most musicals; Taymor and her producers seem to think this a minor flaw, and initial box office returns suggest they might be right.

Charles Spencer, UK Telegraph: After the official press night of a troubled musical based on the classic Marvel comic book is postponed - yet again - The Daily Telegraph's theatre critic loses patience and buys a ticket to find out whether the show is as bad as they say. The answer: Yes, it is.

Charles McNulty, LA Times: The biggest shame in all of this is that the leads - Reeve Carney, who plays Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and Jennifer Damiano, who plays Peter's love interest, Mary Jane - are utterly captivating. Their appealing sensitivity, however, is no match for the machine they're trapped in. Forget about the snarling threats of The Green Goblin (Patrick Page decked in a verdant, plasticky getup that would seem obvious even for a Halloween parade) - the real villainy is Taymor's overreaching desire to top herself.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: But an underwhelming score is the least of the show's worries. What really sinks it is the borderline incoherence of its storytelling. The cast do fine within the limited scope of their roles, and Carney, Damiano and Carpio all have expressive voices. But only Page as the larger-than-life Osborn/Goblin fleshes out a character.

Linda Winer, Newsday: It is time - I'm afraid past time - to turn the lights on "Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark." The $65-million musical has been a magnet for headlines, punch lines and, most important, box-office lines since its first calamity-filled preview on Nov. 28. Even when director Julie Taymor and U2's Bono and The Edge kept asking for more time to make their ambitious experiment perfect before opening...

Chris Jones, The Chicago Tribune: "The much-told woes of "Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark" boil down to a problem that has similarly ensnared far humbler new musicals: an incoherent story."

Richard Ouzounian, Toronto Star: Let's cut to the chase. The only truly amazing thing about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, is how unequivocally awful it is.

David Cote, Time Out New York: Critics, myself included, seem perfectly willing to come back around March 15 to officially review, but they want to have their say now. I saw Spider-Man twice-once with Reeve Carney as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and once with his understudy, Matthew James Thomas. Both times there were technical malfunctions lasting five to 15 minutes, leaving actors hanging over the audience, waving at us like idiotic theme-park workers. The show didn't significantly change over the course of a week. I liked it slightly better the second time (February 6). However, both as a theater critic and as a kid who used to collect comics, I have profound misgivings about the book, score and director Julie Taymor's overarching concept.

Jay Lustig: NJ Star-Ledger: Theater critics may pan "Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark" when it opens in March. But I feel that people will still want to experience it for themselves, and that even in its current state (without the improvements that may follow), it's worth seeing.

MTV:  "Five Things We Liked" includes the Set Design, The Costumes, The Aerial Work, It's Family Friendly and 'Splash Page' the show's opening number.  Part Two is "Five Things We Hated" and that list included The Story, The Acting, The Music, The Changes and The Difficulties. 

Scott Brown, NY Magazine: Some of my colleagues have wondered aloud whether Spider-man will ever be finished - whether it is, in fact, finishable. I think they're onto something: I saw the show on Saturday night, and found it predictably unfinished, but unpredictably entertaining, perhaps on account of this very quality of Death Star-under-construction inchoateness. Conceptually speaking, it's closer to a theme-park stunt spectacular than "circus art," closer to a comic than a musical, closer to The Cremaster Cycle than a rock concert. But "closer" implies proximity to some fixed point, and Spider-man is faaaar out, man. It's by turns hyperstimulated, vivid, lurid, overeducated, underbaked, terrifying, confusing, distracted, ridiculously slick, shockingly clumsy, unmistakably monomaniacal and clinically bipolar.


Rick Miramontez, Spokesman for SPIDER-MAN Turn Off the Dark told us that "The official position of the Spider-Man team is that critics should not review the production until invited by the production. We deem critics to be theater lovers, and to review the show before it is frozen is not, in any way, in the spirit of Broadway and all it represents."

Lead producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris announced that SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark has delayed its opening night (previously set for February 7, 2011) to Tuesday, March 15th to allow for more time to fine-tune aspects of the show, including the new ending. Directed by Julie Taymor and featuring a book by Julie Taymor and Glen Berger, and new music and lyrics by U2's Bono and The Edge, SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark is now in previews at Broadway's Foxwoods Theatre (213 West 42nd Street). 



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