Theater Critics’ Spidey Sense Tingling: All Over?

Memo to the financial backers of Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark:

Turn off the critics.

Because – nationwide – they have risen up as one to thoroughly pan the Broadway musical directed by former golden girl Julie Taymor, with music and lyrics by U2’s Bono and the Edge.

The $65 million production is the theatrical equivalent of a demolition derby, with major technical difficulties (four actors/stagehands injured – one who was hospitalized, one who quit the show) and performances stopped more often than the average hockey game.

And now this (via the New York Times):

In a rare departure from custom, most of the nation’s leading theater critics filed their long-anticipated reviews of Broadway’s “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” for publication on Tuesday, even though that musical had not yet opened. They drew a sharp protest from the production about the fairness of assessing a show while its creative team is still at work.

The reviews by the 12 critics — including those of The New York Times and the region’s three major tabloids as well as of The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post — were largely negative, in some cases emphatically so. Taken together, the notices yielded a consensus that the musical is hamstrung, in the words of the Chicago Tribune critic Chris Jones, by “an incoherent story” that is hurt more than helped by music, flying sequences and sets that neither live up to the creators’ estimable pedigrees nor to the show’s $65 million price tag.

The reviews appeared on what what was supposed to be the musical’s opening, which has been pushed backed several times to – for now – March 15.  From the Times piece:

Most of the critics wrote that they had decided to follow the musical’s latest opening-night date (before it was moved to March 15) because it had been running for an unusually long 10 weeks of previews with paying theatergoers, who deserved independent appraisals. Five more weeks of previews, which the musical is on track to have, would most likely set a record for the most previews of a Broadway musical.

Somewhere, Nick & Nora are smiling.

Regardless, the show is doing boffo box office. The The Times piece, though,  says the critics will have their day over the long run:

On Monday the show will report its first week of ticket sales since the reviews; that will be one sign, but sheer curiosity about the new show, its flying sequences (with their headline-grabbing accidents), and music and lyrics by U2’sBono and the Edge is so great that the grosses are expected to be strong. The effect of negative reviews will probably not be evident until the intrigue wears off, which may not be until the fall or after.

Or never. Don’t forget that Fox Newshound Glenn Beck has already seen the musical four times and gives it rave reviews:

[G]ive a kidney to go see ‘Spider-Man.’ I’m telling you, mark my words, it’s being panned right now, nobody’s saying good stuff about it. I’m telling you, you go buy your ticket — you buy your ticket now, if you’re thinking about coming to New York, because when this thing opens and it’s starting to run, you will not be able to get tickets to this for a year. This is one of those shows, this is the ‘Phantom’ of the 21st century. This is history of Broadway being made. I sat next to the casting director, by chance, and I said, ‘You, sir, are part of history.’”

Either that, or Spiderman will be history.

Place your bets.

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5 Responses to Theater Critics’ Spidey Sense Tingling: All Over?

    • Campaign Outsider says:

      Is New York magazine critic Scott Brown (no relation to U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Am I Still Flying?) a crackhead? Discuss among yourself.

      • arafat kazi says:

        Sir, I thought the faux close reading was really funny!!! The article is guilty of the same excesses he criticizes in the Spiderman production, and if that ain’t a literary pretzel, I don’t know what is.

  1. Laurence Glavin says:

    Apparently for some incomprehensible reason, or no reason at all, Glenn Beck went to the Metropolitan Opera some time ago with his daughter to see their previous production of Wagner’s “Die Walkure”. I know of this because his reaction to the experience is on Youtube (audio only). He didn’t like it. “DW” will be around long after “Spider-Man, etc” is the subject of a NY Times article highlighting the reasons why it failed.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Theater Critics’ Spidey Sense Tingling: All Over? | Campaign Outsider --

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