Review Round-Up: Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark

by Kirby Allison · June 15, 2011

Spider-Man Turn off the Dark, the much anticipated rock-and-roll musical by of Bono, The Edge and at one point The Lion King's Julie Taymor, opened last night. After 183 preview performances (yikes!), lots of mechanical and plot issues, a creative overhaul and what sounds like a diluting of the show, how did it turn out?  The critics weigh in...

Despite the team's effort to save the show, it doesn't sound like it will be the life changing musical they had hoped for.

The not so pleasant history of Spider-Man Turn off the Dark:

Delayed project 9 years in the making

Many injuries during flying sequences, some to audience members, some very serious

Too many technical difficulties that often took close to ten minutes to fix

3 week close and creative overhaul resulting in the firing of Julie Taymor

Longest preview period EVER!

Opening Night

Now that the production claims to have settled their issues, they opened to a star studded audience, complete with former President Bill Clinton with daughter Chelsea in tow as well as Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen, John McEnroe, Julian Casablancas, Matt Damon, Rande Gerber, Spike Lee and Steve Martin.  Apparently the most exciting part of the night was when Bono and Taymor made amends on stage, sealed with a kiss.


What The Critics Are Saying: The Bad

"The first time I saw the show, it was like watching the Hindenburg burn and crash. This time ‘Spider-Man’ — which was originally conceived by the (since departed) visionary director Julie Taymor with the rock musicians Bono and the Edge (of U2) — stirred foggy, not unpleasant childhood memories of second-tier sci-fi TV in the 1960s, with blatantly artificial sets and actors in unconvincing alien masks." [NYT]

"Nine years, countless injuries and vast amounts of money later and all they've managed to come up with is a lightly glittered white dog poo of a production. Aw." [holymoly]

"Patrick Page, as the megalomaniacal scientist who becomes the evil mutant called the Green Goblin, provides the one reason for adults unaccompanied by minors to see the show." [NYT]

"Everything that happens in "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" is thus both utterly familiar and utterly predictable."[WSJ]

In reference to the two leads of the musical..

"As for Mr. Carney and Ms. Damiano, they're pretty, bland and devoid of charisma." [WSJ]


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What Critics Are Saying: The Not So Bad

"In this absence of, well, everything that might constitute drama, Patrick Page's Norman Osborn/Green Goblin has been handed the whole show. Pre-rehab, Page was the best thing about the musical; even the technical glitches, which could sometimes take upwards of ten minutes to repair, were made more than palatable by his natural showmanship, easy patter, and sly self-mockery." [NYMag]

"Patrick Page, as the megalomaniacal scientist who becomes the evil mutant called the Green Goblin, provides the one reason for adults unaccompanied by minors to see the show." [NYT]

"Emerging from all that tangled drama, Spidey 2.0 is more cohesive, streamlined and funnier than before, and its thrills are still intact - though it is still weighed down by so-so songs." [NYDailyNews]

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Despite all these reviews, apparently fashion goddess Diane Von Furstenberg liked it proclaiming via twitter "Just saw Spider Man ! Quite a production ! Sets are magnificent especially in the first act! Love Diane." Maybe there is hope..

And there you have it. This is what $75 million looks like on stage.


[top photo via]