Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark Review.

I wanted to do this as one of my regular reviews but unfortunately this doesn't fit into any of the categories for the review options of the sight. However, this show needs to be discussed because I find it incredibly sad that I'm one of the only people who sticks up for it. This Show is absolutely fantastic but not for the reasons one thinks, but before I get to that, I have to address a few things. One, yes a lot of people have gotten hurt, there are several complex wirework stunts in this show and accidents happen. My friends dad is a professional stunt driver and he understands the risks involved with this sort of thing. Fortunately during my show everything went off without a hitch. Second, I saw the show before they fired Julie Taymor and revamped it. Knowing what I know about the revamp, the changes they made were for the worse in my opinion. So let's get started.

We start off with these characters called the Geek chorus, who are trying to write the ultimate Spiderman fan-fiction. Yes, I'm serious, the entire show is a fan-fiction, and you know what, it works. This is not an adaptation of Spiderman in the traditional sense. This is a fan's tribute to Spiderman, and in the end, that's what fan fiction should be. The comic trivia the geeks randomly insert shows that the writer clearly new their stuff. Taymor is not ignoring Spiderman lore with the changes made, she's telling her own story of Spiderman with that was inspired by that lore. We start off with the Greek myth of Arachne, the woman who Athena turned into a Spider. This may seem like an odd choice but it actually makes a lot more sense in act two. The Arachne character appears in the background several times during act one as a sort of metaphysical presence. Finally we get to Peter Parker in class being tormented by flash and his goons (all of whom are wearing yellow and black for some reason, whatever it's broadway) The song that comes from this scene is very fun and catchy and sadly I haven't been able to track it down. Also, a great touch is that whenever they slam Peters head into a desk or something, a little sign pops up that read's POW or SMACK, it's straight out of Adam West Batman and it's just wonderful. As we continue we're introduced to our regulars like Mary Jane, Uncle Ben, Aunt May, etc. In terms of plot structure they seem to be drawing a lot from the first movie, which isn't a problem, it's how most people know Spiderman these days. Then we get to the field trip to Os-corp labs were we meet a very different Norman Osbourne. He has a camp southern accent, his Wife is still alive, and Harry is never mentioned in the show. I can see fans being put off by this but I didn't mind, especially given later events. Of course while everyone else is distracted by a musical number about science, Peter gets bitten by the spider. The scenery for the transformation is absolutely beautiful, and the song that follows is easily one of the most Rocking in the show. Peter beats the hell out of Flash's cronies and then goes to the arena to challenge the world heavyweight champion, BOOOOOONESAW!!!!!! Sadly, they couldn't get Macho Man Randy Savage, (Rest in Peace Macho Man, we miss you) so instead we get a really stupid looking puppet. This is the only part I didn't like because there is no replacing Macho Man Randy Savage because BOOOOONESAW IS READY!!! After that, we get the death of uncle Ben which is actually changed slightly, but not in a way that diminishes it's impact. So naturally Peter becomes Spiderman and there's a montage of him saving people, which includes a nice cameo from the villain Hammerhead. Meanwhile, Osbourne is under pressure from the military to test his performance enhancers. In what is a very clever nod to the fans, a list of Os-corp scientists who have left the company is read off that includes names like, Lee, Ditko, Romita, Stracynski and Quesada. When we find out that those scientists are killed by the Goblin later in the show I thought to myself, "That was for one more day Quesada you hack." There's a very nice number called picture this which is sung by both Peter and Osbourne to their respective lovers. It's a nice scene and a sweet song before all hell breaks loose. Norman straps into the machine and becomes the goblin, but his wife is killed in an explosion during his transformation, sort of making his origin an amalgamation of the movie origins of both the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus, which I like. Once we see the Goblin in all his glory, Hoo-boy that's when things get fun. He shows up on top of a building with playing a piano looking like the Grinch and chewing the scenery in a way that would make even Tim Curry blush. That camp southern accent is in full force now to the point where he sounds like Paul Bearer of WWE fame, it's hilarious and awesome. He's kidnapped Mary Jane and forces Peter into a fight. The stunts in this scene are simply amazing. Spidey and the Goblin were right above my head during their battle. It's something that my words cannot do justice to, you have to see it for yourself. But Spidey wins the day and the Goblin falls to his death to end act 1.

Act 2 opens with the Geek chorus wondering who they should pit against Spiderman next in their story. What follows is my favorite scene in the entire show. The Geek's are arguing over who the best Spiderman villain is, throwing out names like Lizard, Carnage, Kraven, Swarm, Electro, and even a new villain named Swiss Miss. (Hey it's a fanfic, you can have original characters if you want) Meanwhile, there's a montage of Spiderman fighting those villains all of which is set to a rocking song. I love this scene because it reminds me of all the similar arguments I would have with my friends. However, Spidey is feeling under appreciated, is tired of his negative press from JJJ, and is contemplating giving it all up. (what else is new) Ultimately he chooses Mary Jane over his life as Spider man, but Arachne, who I reiterate has been a background character throughout all of act 1, is not happy about it. Supposedly, Spidey's powers are tied to Arachne in this version, something that I felt to be reminiscent of the Ezekiel Arc from Stracynski's run on amazing Spiderman, which I praise as Spidey at his best. Arachne launches an attack on the world, resurrecting the Goblin and the other villains. There's a truly epic montage of the villains causing chaos throughout the world and all hope seems lost. This sequence also contains my favorite line in the show, of course it's from the Goblin. "This just in, Carnage is writing his name in blood on the side of a building, No idea as to how he obtained the blood, but there's a lot of it." Spiderman finally decides to return to action when MJ is kidnapped and he defeats the villains once again, but there is still Arachne to deal with. Arachne wants Peter to fully embrace his Spider side and give up his humanity, but Spiderman refuses, asserting that he is Spiderman AND Peter Parker, not one or the other. He also professes that he loves Mary Jane, which I guess frees Arachne from her curse. Yes it's silly, but it's got great music.

Bottom line, this musical does not deserve the negative press it has received. It is a well crafted tribute to Spiderman by someone who clearly has a love for the mythos of the character. It's far from perfect but it is a damn enjoyable show and worth the price of admission. Spidey fans and Non fans alike will love it. This show has become my favorite musical of all time. If you saw it and did not like it, that's fine. But if you have jumped on the Spidey-musical hater bandwagon without even seeing it yourself then shame on you. See it before you pass judgement, that's what I did and I was pleasantly surprised.

4 Comments
4 Comments
Posted by swungomonkey

Awesome Review :D

Posted by Bloodwolfassassin

@swungomonkey: Thank you. It really is a good show

Posted by swungomonkey

I really would like to go see it, but it doesn't play anywhere near me. I'm pumped about the act involving the new sinister six!

Posted by jukeboxheroabc

Sounds like a great show and I would like to see it. Though to point out all the bad press, it wasn't really from the writing or story that it was coming from. It was from the amount of money it cost and all the injuries from some of the stunts.