Broadway vs Off-Off-Off-OFF-Broadway
Six delayed openings,
Four injured characters,
A mad genius at the helm and a $70 million dollar stake…
Is it the latest scheme by the nefarious Green Goblin? A bank robbery by the Sinister Six? J. Jonah Jameson’s latest journalistic vanity project? NO! It’s the musical that everybody’s been talking about: Spider-man: Turn off the Dark. Anyone who’s got any ear on the pulse of Broadway knows a little about the massive investments and numerous stutter-steps in the biggest gamble in Broadway history. In 2002, Julie Taymor (director of films like Frida and Across the Universe) joined forces with Bono and The Edge of U2 to bring one of the most successful comic book franchises to life on Broadway.
Since that fateful day, news on the show has been….well, highly anticipated! At least four actors suffered injuries, ranging from minor concussion to numerous broken bones. Rehearsals and previews have been plagued with delays and technical difficulties. As the costs continued to mount and mount the preview reviews that came in were…less than stellar… The investors concluded that Taymor was no longer fit to run the show, and it was handed over to a new director and screenwriter.
Now the Levys aren’t haters! We want to see successful Broadway shows and the tourists who love them; we want to see such hard work and innovation rewarded. So when we snagged some tickets for the very night that the new previews re-premiered. (That makes this the… second time it’s opened? Third? Ah, whatever.) we went in with an open mind.
And I walked out with the feeling that my $70 ticket price was a waste of cash.
Sorry to everyone clinging to Spidey’s tenuous webs, but the songs sounded like U2 B-sides, Mary-Jane (played by Jennifer Damiano) was bland and lacking charisma, the villains looked like Disney characters on acid, the plot was awkward and incoherent. And why did the Green Goblin talk with a southern accent? When a play’s saving grace is its bright and exciting sets (and yes, some awesome flying sequences) you don’t quite get the sense that this is the next West Side Story.
Some Broadway shows just stick with us, with tunes that are endlessly hummable. As Levy hatchlings, every long car ride was made shorter by the Broadway soundtrack to Les Miserables on cassette. I’ve always loved the romantic classic I Got Rhythm, originally a 1930’s gem by George and Ira Gershwin from a musical called Girl Crazy. Which, in 1992, was made into a musical called Crazy For You. Which I went to see just 48 hours after the Broadway Spider-debacle.
Edward R Murrow High School, the alma-mater of all three Levy boys, is known for their top-notch theater productions. Grandma sprung for tickets and we went to the (high school) theater. The sets were top-rate. The costumes were phenomenal. And the performances were the sort of caliber that sometimes you wish you saw on Broadway.
If tickets for a show on the great white way are a little out of your price range, then take a visit to the Anzalone theater at 1600 ave L in Brooklyn. Drop $15, and maybe a little more at the bake-sale concession stand and you’ll see some talented youngsters that truly deserve to see their names in lights.
By Gideon Levy
A Rebuttal, by Mark Levy
I loved Spiderman! Amongst the Levys, I’m distainfully known for my taste for mid-brow pop culture. And as I often point out: pop stands for POPULAR, as in ordinary people liking it! I thought Spiderman was exciting, the plot clear and understandable, the sets, video projections and costumes incredible, the flying sequences astonishing. The male leads were good, especially Broadway veteran Patrick Page (accent and all) as the mad scientist turned Green Goblin. I predict that it will be a major hit on Broadway for many years because it will appeal to school groups, families, tourists and Broadway musical fans.
Viva La Opinion!