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"Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" Finally Opens at Foxwoods Theatre
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"Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" Finally Opens at Foxwoods Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights

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Michael Cohl & Jeremiah J. Harris
et al.
In association with Marvel Entertainment

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Music & Lyrics by Bono and The Edge
Book by Julie Taymor, Glen Berger,
& Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Reeve Carney, Jennifer Damiano,
TV Carpio, Patrick Page

Foxwoods Theatre
213 West 42nd Street

Original Direction: Julie Taymor
Creative Consultant: Philip Wm. McKinley
Choreography & Aerial Choreography by Daniel Ezralow
Additional Choreography by Chase Brock

Michael Mulheren, Ken Marks, Isabel Keating, Jeb Brown,
Matthew James Thomas, Laura Beth Wells,
Matt Caplan, Dwayne Clark, Luther Creek

And an ensemble of actors/singers/dancers

Scenic Design: George Tsypin

Costume Design: Eiko Ishioka
Lighting Design: Donald Holder
Sound Design: Jonathan Deans
Projection Design: Kyle Cooper
Mask Design: Julie Taymor
Hair Design: Campbell Young Assoc.
Luc Verschueren
Makeup Design: Judy Chin
Aerial Design: Scott Rogers
Aerial Rigging Design: Jaque Paquin
Projection Coordinator: Additional Content Design:
Howard Werner
Prosthetics Design: Louie Zakarian
Arrangements & Orchestrations: David Campbell
Music Supervision: Teese Gohl
Music Producer: Paul Bogaev
Music Direction: Kimberly Grigsby
Music Coordinator: Antoine Silverman
Vocal Arrangements: David Campbell,
Teese Gohl, Kimberly Grigsby
Production Stage Managers:
C. Randall White, Kathleen E. Purvis
Casting Director: Telsey + Company
Marketing Director: Len Gill
Marketing: Keith Hurd
Assoc. Producer: Anne Tanaka
Production Manager: Juniper Street Productions
& MB Productions
General Management: Alan Wasser-Allan Williams
Aaron Lustbader
Executive Producers: Glenn Orsher, Stephen Howard,
Martin McCallum, Adam Silberman
Press: O & M Co.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 16, 2011

After what seemed an interminable wait, while this show ran through almost 200 previews, with a series of accidents to actors and sets, the press invitation finally arrived. Now, after finally seeing Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, in its re-imagined, re-incarnated, re-designed, revised format and staging, I’m so disappointed that I didn’t get to see the original version, conceived and directed by Julie Taymor. After many non-start opening nights, and many negative preview reviews, Ms. Taymor was essentially replaced by “Creative Consultant Philip Wm. McKinley”. Bono and The Edge (U2), a rock group I admit I don’t follow, wrote, re-wrote, and re-re-wrote the music. Judging from the longest show credit list on this magazine (above, which could have been an even longer list), dozens of technical, musical, and narrative professionals are involved in the past and present creation of this show. To get to the point, this show left me wanting more, much more.

The simple story begins with the introverted, intellectual Peter Parker (Reeve Carney), Mary Jane Watson (Jennifer Damiano), and their outer borough NY high school science class visiting a lab exhibition, run by Norman and Emily Osborn (Patrick Page and Laura Beth Wells). Poisonous spider creatures curl inside smoky glass vats, before a rare, radioactive spider bites Peter, who had been seriously bullied by Flash (Matt Caplan) and friends. Peter has a crush on Mary Jane, and Flash wants her as his own, a typical teen competition. Peter had been targeted and taunted, before the spider gave him powers to fly, to battle, and to make the New York City newspapers, as a crime-stopping hero. Michael Mulheren is J. Jonah Jameson, the news Exec., who hires Peter to “follow” Spider-Man, as Peter’s the only one who gets his feats on camera.

Norman Osborn loses his wife in the midst of exploding machines, and he, himself, turns into the Green Goblin. Other creatures are The Sinister Six, and more. I’m not a Spider-Man aficionado, but I brought one as my guest to the show. Comic book characters fly through the air on visible ropes, kick and toss each other onstage, or appear as drawings in backdrop projections. Giant NY skyscrapers, featuring the Chrysler Building, rise, fall, and turn in amazing resemblance to a kid’s pop-up book. George Tsypin is listed as scenic designer, with Louie Zakarian listed for projection design. The visual elements of the set were quite riveting, and they proved to be highlights of the show. Another highlight is the chemistry between Reeve Carney and Jennifer Damiano. Their kisses could actually be heard within the silent moments of this heavy rock-infused production. Mr. Carney and Ms. Damiano have sweet, natural vocals that projected through Foxwoods Theatre. They sang “No More”, “If the World Should End”, and “I Just Can’t Walk Away” with poignancy and persuasion.

Mr. Carney’s occasional aerial feats (he had been injured early in the previews) were enchanting. In contrast, the over-abundance of Spider-Man look-alikes was not only redundant, it was confusing and distracting. The impression was a circus atmosphere, but all the stuntmen reeling en air in the same head to toe costume with no nuance. Cirque du Soleil, American Ballet Theatre, Angels in America, and Mary Poppins have done so much more with aerial sequences as acrobats, actors, or dancers respectively hang from trapezes, are swept into heavenly clouds, descend from smoke and thunder, or fly over the audience with an umbrella. This live action “drama” was merely live action “cliché”. The screeching Green Goblin swung and breezed above with his face somewhat in view, under thick makeup enhancement, but his action was so repetitive and his voice so grating that he seared the nerves. Children, maybe teens would be mesmerized, but it was as if the audience walked into the nearby Madame Tussauds, and the action-oriented characters were propelled into cacophonous flight. Actually, that would be quite a show.

T.V. Carpio, as Arachne, is one of the more pleasant characters, with a compelling silky quality. Her “Behold and Wonder” was stunning. Ken Marks and Isabel Keating, as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, exude warmth in the early scenes, pre-radioactive bite. Mr. Mulheren is filled with bluster in his NY news shop, but the production’s massive noisy sequences overwhelm the comic book plot. Reporters, gangsters, executives, a purse snatcher, and the exotic monster-types that battle it out with Spider-Man in and around the skyscrapers come and go with blasts of percussion. In fact, Bono and The Edge’s score is almost total electronic percussion, with harsh atonality that’s not even dissonant. It’s mostly dizzying. But, when Mr. Carney and Ms. Damiano hung on a rooftop perch, with stars and night sky above, that was a moment that captured the imagination. If only there had been more.

Jennifer Damiano, Reeve Carney,
and Patrick Page in
“SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark”
Courtesy of Jacob Cohl

A scene from
“SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark”
Courtesy of Jacob Cohl

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at