I'm sure the makers of SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK are wishing they were in the position that THE BOOK OF MORMON found itself in this week. Sure, the preview showings for SPIDER-MAN were wildly successful financially, but critically? Not so much. I thought it was a piece of crap myself, and I was unsure if they could even redeem the play with any massive rewrites. But there's too much money invested at this point for anyone to back down, and so it closed in April for what looked like a complete overhaul. And now, according to Entertainment Weekly, it's almost time to show the baby to the world again. A recent showing previewed the many changes the play has undergone since April, and it sounds like, according to the article, that they made changes for the better:
- No Geek Chorus. Thank the Maker. They were awful, stopping the story dead cold for a little bit of meta commentary. They were obviously put there to give a voice to the fans, but they were stereotypical portrayals of comic geeks and completely failed in every aspect. According to the article, more dialogue has been added to make the story flow better and to expand on the characters. It sounds like they made the play more traditional.
- More Stunts. Easily the best thing about the play, the stunt crew for SPIDER-MAN should be commended for giving the play that real sense of amazement and wonder. If anyone took anything great away from the play it was the incredible visuals of having Spider-Man leap over the crowd and fight midair above the audience. It's a good thing they wrote around it and accentuated it, because this is what the play will most be remembered for.
- More of Some Characters, Less Of Others. Arachne, the mystical villain of the original piece, is almost completely cut out, now only offering brief commentary on the proceedings. She didn't make much sense in the original play, and I got the feeling that she was mostly a Julie Taymor creation. Her number "Deeply Furious" may have been the most bizarre musical number I've ever seen, and thankfully, that's gone. The Green Goblin is now the main villain, as it should be. They've expanded his character, along with Osborn's wife, Uncle Ben and Aunt May.
- New Music. A new Green Goblin song, "Freak Like Me" has been added, and many of the show's numbers have been reworked. I hope they didn't change "Rise Above" or "The Boy Falls From The Sky" too much, as those numbers actually worked.
Apparently, according to the article, the show went well, as the audience gave a standing ovation at the end. That's not such a big deal - I got one at the end of my show, and it was still awful. Time will tell if the play works or not. I could see something wonderful inside the pile that I got back in March - here's hoping they were able to find it and bring it forth. Right now it sounds as if many of the things I hated about the original have been fixed or altered, so perhaps they salvaged something amazing after all.