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

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BroadwayWorld.com was the first to report that multiple critics from major newspapers have indeed purchased tickets in recent days to SPIDER-MAN: Turn Off the Dark, and they have come out in force. All but a few papers have filed reviews timed to tonight's performance which was, until the most recent delay, scheduled to be the show's opening night. Here are all the reviews for SPIDER-MAN: Turn Off the Dark to date and we'll keep updating as new ones come in. 

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: The sheer ineptitude of this show, inspired by the Spider-Man comic books, loses its shock value early. After 15 or 20 minutes, the central question you keep asking yourself is likely to change from "How can $65 million look so cheap?" to "How long before I'm out of here? Nothing looks truly new, including the much-vaunted flying sequences in which some poor sap is strapped into an all-too-visible harness and hoisted uneasily above the audience. (Aren't they doing just that across the street in "Mary Poppins"?) This is especially unfortunate, since Ms. Taymor and her collaborators have spoken frequently about blazing new frontiers with "Spider-Man," of venturing where no theater artist (pardon me, I mean artiste) has dared to venture before."

Peter MarksThe Washington Post: What's apparent after 170 spirit-snuffing minutes in the Foxwoods Theatre - interrupted by the occasional burst of aerial distraction - is that director Julie Taymor, of "The Lion King" fame, left a few essential items off her lavish shopping list: 1. Coherent plot 2. Tolerable music 3. Workable sets. To be sure, Taymor has found a way to send her superhero soaring above the audience. And yet, the creature that most often spreads its wings in the Foxwoods is a turkey."

Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg News: Neither Taymor nor her co-writer, Glen Berger, have found a way to improve the book, a protofeminist stew that foolishly decants the myth of the weaver Arachne into a story that's incoherent to begin with. After all this expenditure of talent and money, "Spider- Man" is probably unfixable because too much has gone into making humans fly, which is not what they are good at. It imitates poorly what the "Spider-Man" movies do brilliantly with computer graphics -- and without putting live actors in jeopardy. They are fine actors. In addition to Carney and Page, I liked Jennifer Damiano, who has little to do as girlfriend Mary Jane Watson, but does it winningly, and Michael Mulheren as crass Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson. Maybe the show eventually will run for several performances in a row without having to stop to untangle someone. Some triumph.

Elysa Gardner, USA Today: What has been less widely reported is this: Beyond the offstage drama and lavish budget, and all the feats and flash accompanying them, lies an endearingly old-fashioned musical...For more, tune in again in March. But know this for now: Spider-Man's creative team is trying to bring musical theater back to the future. And that's a mission worth rooting for.

Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: What I saw is a big production going in too many directions and in need of a lot of work to make it entertaining, satisfying and understandable.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: A breathtakingly beautiful scene is followed by a laughable one. The flying sequences can be thrilling, as when Spider-Man first takes off over the orchestra; other times, they look barely good enough for Six Flags, the harnesses making the movements clunky.

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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