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Just When You Thought You'd Escaped All SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK News... AICN Pulls You Back In!

Nordling here.

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.

Nordling, out.

Readers Talkback
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  • May 13, 2011, 11:57 a.m. CST

    There's a song called "Freak Like Me?"

    by WriteForTheEdit

    Sounds like something better featured in a "Dark Knight" musical... Which, come to think of it, could be pretty awesome...

  • May 13, 2011, 11:59 a.m. CST

    And, Nordling, what show did you do?

    by WriteForTheEdit

    You're a braver man than I.

  • May 13, 2011, noon CST

    Spider-man, Spider-man, does whatever an Opera can't

    by CoolFrood

    bums a crowd, any size catches sighs, just like flies LOOK OUT!!!! Here comes the SPIDER: MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK (dah dah dah!)

  • May 13, 2011, 12:01 p.m. CST

    I've been a huge Spidey fan since before I can remember.

    by skycrapper

    And I have very little interest in this. Sounds like a complete botch job by a bunch of New York hipsters.

  • May 13, 2011, 12:03 p.m. CST

    Oh, wait, never mind my stupid question...

    by WriteForTheEdit

    ...not your show, but the show you attended. "Reading is fundamental!!! Comprehension, not so much..."

  • May 13, 2011, 12:08 p.m. CST

    A Spiderman musical is a bad idea anyway.

    by Bob Cryptonight

    I saw it before these changes. The problem is that a musical, no matter how serious the topic (say Sweeney Todd) is just light weight. People have to sing and dance. I mean, this ain't opera. So the whole concept of Peter's angst--and then singing about it--just doesn't work. It's silly. Traymor added Arachne ("I got the feeling that she was mostly a Julie Taymor creation"...duh, ya think?) to try and add weight to the comic book (explaining how a kid comes up with that costume, for example), but her motives seemed completely illogical given the story. And her abrupt change of heart at the end was unmoving. As for the stunts...yeah, they are cool, but a few days after the show you start thinking 1) why would they allow humans to do that and risk injury, and 2) why did I pay to see that? When you are in the theater, yeah it's great to have Spiderman swing over your head close enough that you could touch him...but, ultimately, so what? The songs are an attempt to do a Spring Awakening thing...angst set to a rock score. but Spiderman is a comic book about fighting supervillains. Wedging in a song doesn't create a new form of entertainment (a "rock-and-roll circus drama" she calls it).

  • May 13, 2011, 12:08 p.m. CST

    OT: AICN Extra Stuff . . . Works Again!


    For those of you who use it, you might have noticed over the past few days, the comments section disappeared. Well, that's cuz they changed the underlying HTML code, so . . . Anyway, it's fixed. Come get the AICN Extra Stuff Mod here: Works with Firefox, Chrome, and can be made to work with Opera and Safari (I'm using it in Safari now). Includes Ignore function for irritating Talkbackers, a hilite function for favorite talkbackers, the ability to change Moderator boxes to pink (ha ha!), reverse the talkback order, reformats the Talkback to look more like it did before "the change" . . . special formatting stuff to embed images and styles (but can only be seen by other AICN Extra Stuff mod users) . . . Oh, and auto-expand--automatically displays all comment text! That's the thing I miss most when I'm not running it. Will cross-post this OT commentary in a few places, just so folks know. And I tested it with Chrome, and it was working. Let me know if you have any problems . . .

  • May 13, 2011, 12:09 p.m. CST

    Oh! And Recent Comments . . . Keeps track of recent talkbacks


    That you've visited that you had posted to, when the page loads. I use that all the time.

  • May 13, 2011, 12:12 p.m. CST

    It'll be Al Qaeda next!!

    by Chris Wright

    It's funny that U2 have done the music for this when in the 1986 run of the Web of Spider-Man comic, Spider-Man fought the IRA in London and in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

  • May 13, 2011, 12:15 p.m. CST

    I saw this in March

    by PeanutButterSlut

    And got to do a talk back with some of the actors afterward. I actually got to ask a question, but really pissed someone off with it. I asked the dude who played J.J. Jameson if he was inspired by J.K. Simmons' take on JJ in Spidey the movie, but he got all uppity and said he knew J.K. in real life and he was a good friend but said he had never seen the Spiderman films. Really, he never saw them? Right... Anyways the dude stormed off and said he was late for a train:/ After that, the lady that did the orchestration direction answered some questions, and then the guy who played spidey and his d-bag bro (also the guitarist for the play) answered a few questions but mostly pimped their band "Karney" or whatever the fuck it is. Spidey babbled on about Taymor a bit, even though she wasn't there and I think she had already been fired at that point (I saw March 18th show, I believe). Then some technical director answered some questions and shit, and blabbed about following your dreams and stuff. Swiss Miss was hilarious in the play though, I hope they kept the part where she slices this puppet dudes heads and arms off and these streamers (red) fly out to simulate the gore. LOL. And Arachne was very WTF but her musical number was fucking trippy.

  • May 13, 2011, 12:16 p.m. CST

    "If anything took anything great away from the play..."

    by 3D-Man

    I think that should be "If anyONE took anything great away from the play..." Thanks.

  • May 13, 2011, 12:33 p.m. CST

    I liked the Geek Chorus

    by tonagan

    In its previous incarnation, I thought the show needed them. Hope the Green Goblin still sings "I'll Take Manhattan".

  • May 13, 2011, 12:50 p.m. CST

    I will be very impressed if,

    by Tom Fremgen

    They can save this thing. Everything has sounded bad about this. But if they can really turn it around and make it cool- rock on!

  • May 13, 2011, 12:55 p.m. CST


    by NixEclips

    I still can't get your script to effing work. It wouldn't even let me expand the talkbacks. It just kept taking me to the top of the page.

  • May 13, 2011, 12:59 p.m. CST

    Nixeclips: What browser are you using?


    And platform? I test everything on the Mac. I might be missing something. And you're using the very latest one, right?

  • May 13, 2011, 1:02 p.m. CST

    Nixelclips: I think I see the Problem. Will Work In it.


    In the meantime, at the bottom of the page (when running the script) there is an Auto Expand All pref. Click on that, and then "update prefs". Then all the talkbacks will be automatically expanded and you won't have to worry about it. But I will try to fix the other thing.

  • May 13, 2011, 1:03 p.m. CST


    by fatmoshe

    I saw Turn off the Dark for my Wedding Anniversary last December, and hated most everything other than the stunts (just like everyone else). They better get rid of that stupid metal "villain" they created just for the show and they need to completely change the second act. Getting rid of the geek chorus is a good start, but honestly, that was the least of the shows many problems. I ended up really liking the actor who plays Green Goblin, however, even though the costume is ridiculously lame. More of that guy would be a step in the right direction. OH, and I forgot how the show actually ended (since it was pretty underwhelming), but I remember thinking that they MUST MUST MUST rewrite the ending so that they finish the show with an aerial sequence, like in the first Spider-Man. That's what everyone came for, and that's the image the audience should leave with. My wife and I plan on seeing Turn off the Dark again for our Anniversary this year, and we hope that we can see a different version of this play every year thereafter. Seriously, how great would that be-- a completely new Spider-man musical every year! Maybe in 2024 they will get it right.

  • May 13, 2011, 1:12 p.m. CST

    Dont cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me...

    by thommcg

    Dunno if that's in character for Green Goblin...

  • May 13, 2011, 1:13 p.m. CST


    by NixEclips

    Sorry I keep bringing it up. Yes, it's updated. I've kinda got used to the new AICN, but would much rather have it old-school.

  • May 13, 2011, 1:15 p.m. CST

    Thanks, Kev

    by NixEclips

    Next time I activate the script, I'll look for that.

  • May 13, 2011, 1:20 p.m. CST


    by thommcg

    Statistically speaking you're more likely to be injured on the way to the theater to see it...

  • May 13, 2011, 1:41 p.m. CST

    There was a "geek chorus"?

    by rev_skarekroe

    This sounds even worse than I initially thought!

  • May 13, 2011, 2:11 p.m. CST


    by oogles

    I can't imagine seeing the Spiderman films crossing over into other Marvel films because of studio rights. Sony owns the rights to make Spiderman movies and Paramount owns just about all the rest (except for X-Men which is Fox).

  • May 13, 2011, 2:48 p.m. CST

    i just sprained my ankle reading this news.

    by vulturess

    i just fell off my chair and hit my head on the table typing this comment.

  • May 13, 2011, 2:51 p.m. CST

    Nordling got a standing ovation?

    by Kirbymanly


  • May 13, 2011, 3:03 p.m. CST


    by Shaner Jedi

    I don't know if Boy Falls from the Sky is gone from the play or not, but I know U2 has been playing it sparingly at a few shows the last few months.

  • What a stupid cunt. And this is coming from someone who loves Greek mythology.

  • May 13, 2011, 3:52 p.m. CST

    Hope Glenn Beck likes it...

    by MST3KPIMP

  • May 13, 2011, 5:36 p.m. CST

    More stunts?

    by mascan42

    I thought the stunts were part of the problem, since they were putting half the cast in the hospital.

  • May 13, 2011, 7:40 p.m. CST

    Obviously you've never seen Next to Normal

    by ef

    It's simply wrong that musicals can't (or don't) take on weighty dark subject matter. Just look at Next to Normal, a show about bipolar disorder and grief. It won the Tony for best score for 2009, and a Pulitzer Prize and simply one of the best musicals ever made - taking on the type of heavy material/subject matter not seen to such depth in films or television series. Nothing can't be done with the right creative hand. Taymor couldn't execute her intended vision, but a large part of why this show wasn't fully realized lies with Bono and the Edge. I think they haven't publicly acknowledged there culpability. The truth is getting together something brilliant really required a lot more work at the stage 1 stage...they needed to get the story fully developed and then executed on songs that propelled the narratives at that early stage. I'm sure Bono and the Edge were only willing to commit so much time, not to mention the financial considerations of everyone wanting to go in and mount a show instead of waiting to actually fully develop something.

  • May 13, 2011, 7:56 p.m. CST

    I hate musicals, I rooted for the Nazi's in Sound of Music.

    by boogy110

    But damn, I wish I could have seen this when it was terrible and the stunts were going wrong. That would make it an awesome comedy.

  • May 13, 2011, 8:04 p.m. CST

    If the Show Was Doing Well Financially...

    by Uzala

    ...Then why do they care what the critics think?

  • May 14, 2011, 10:46 a.m. CST

    Marvel superhero broadway musical??

    by IKilledSuperman

    ehehehe..... wahahaha... Nyahahahagh! I love the US, but you guys surely do have some bizarre entertainment products, LMAO! It´s bc of this and comparable shit that many people here in Europe (wrongly) consider US citzens ignorant mouthbreathers. Not that I´d expect AICN to report on anything culturally relevant one day (wasn´t Mr Knowles the one who orgasmed over Bin Laden´s execution marketing?), but come on. Shit like this musical shouldn´t even be mentioned on a geek site.

  • May 15, 2011, 1:02 a.m. CST


    by CT1

    love broken necks

  • May 16, 2011, 5:33 a.m. CST

    by TheBoyFromUlster

    That is absolutely bonkers!!!!!!!

  • May 16, 2011, 8:13 a.m. CST

    still bad

    by almostgrown

    My wife and son just saw it this past Saturday, and said it is still cheesy, hammy and any other food related description you can think of. apparently, there is still some bad acting, bad diction and a ton of ad-libbing when the harness locked up on Goblin during the big climactic fight scene. they said Stunt Spidey just kicked back on a catwalk, propped his feet up and let Goblin shout insults and threats until the safety mechanism was reset.