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Wednesday, September 18, 2013


“And you say rise above.” When watching Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, I along with the sold out crowd were in awe of its beauty. From its amazing visual effects to its spot on acting, the epic retelling of the greatest superhero origin story of all time soars. Critics have been VERY harsh on this Broadway production, and I genuinely believe they are so very harsh because of peer pressure. Throughout the musicals 2 hr. and 30 minute run time, I couldn’t think of any other place I would rather be, and this is coming from a guy who hates musicals. I couldn’t even sit through the first hour of Grease without questioning my gender. But, enough with the opening paragraph let’s get into the body of this!

Now this isn’t the first time I had seen Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, but it is however the first time I saw the musical in full. I was originally meant to view the musical on September 14th but after my brother suffered a “vicious attack of explosive diarrhea.” Actual quote from my brother, I was forced to leave the theatre after its opening musical number. Funny, this was the last time Reeve Carney would be donning the Spider-Man suit as Justin Sargent replaced him on Monday night. The minute I arrived into the Foxwood Theatre on this past Tuesday, a rush of adrenaline rush through my body. The lights go dark, and the curtain rises. Here we go.

As the musical ends, there I was admiring the performance. I also led a standing ovation. The musical was a blast. But, lets get into the specifics. Now, I think I’m one to judge a Peter Parker/Spider-Man portrayal as I’ve seen almost ever incarnation of the character ever since his creation way back in 1962. Out of Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man), Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man) and Reeve Carney (Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark), newcomer Justin Sargent became my favourite Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He nailed everything about that character, his wit was perfect and his awkward scenes with his Aunt and Mary Jane Watson (more on her later) make for some brilliant laughs and incredible moments. And yes, there was a jizz joke in there, and I laughed my ass off. Another stand out of the musical was the portrayal of Mary Jane Watson. Now I’m not a fan of Mary Jane, I have a love/hate relationship with her, sometimes she’s awesome, and sometimes she sucks. But when I was watching this musical, I just couldn’t help but love her. This is partly because actress, Rebecca Faulkenberry gives a performance that not only stands as the BEST Mary Jane, but also kicks poor Kirsten Dunst off her dusty throne.

Now, I feel as if I should leave a whole paragraph to discuss Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin. Now, if you’re a hardcore Spidey fanatic, like myself, you’d probably hate his portrayal. You know, it’s funny because I loved his portrayal. Robert Cuccioli plays Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin and my God does he do a good job. Norman’s character in this play is very different to that of the comics, but his character in the musical is how Norman would be in the comics if his wife Emily Osborn was still around. Norman is portrayed in a very ‘Doc Ock’ esque way. Norman in this musical is very comedic, as is The Goblin, this may outrage the purists, but I found this portrayal different and fun. This take on Osborn makes you really feel for Norman when he becomes The Goblin; it kinda gives him a purpose.

The rest of the cast is awesome. Emily Osborn, who is played by Laura Beth Wells, gives a great performance as Norman’s loving wife. Emily died in the comics well before we ever met Norman, I think having her appear here makes Norman a much more relatable man. Another stand out of the cast is Michael Mulheren who gives a more than faithful adaptation of J. Jonah Jameson. Ben and May Parker are also standouts, with the two played by Ken Marks and Isabel Keating respectively. One character I felt had no real purpose being in the musical at all was Arachne. Arachne appeared like 4 times, when she did appear it was pretty good. Overall the cast is pretty good, with the occasional miss (the bullies being a huge example). 

As for the story? It’s a musical dude, how good did you expect the story to be? The story is a simple retelling of the Spider-Man origin story, people complaining that Julie Taymor (Turn Off The Dark director) ruined the Spider-Man origin story is complete bull. The origin story in this musical is almost identical to the comics or however Spider-Man 2 director, Sam Raimi saw them. I liked the story it was fun and simple. In a nut shell the story goes like this, Peter Parker gets bit by a spider, becomes Spider-Man and then must face The Green Goblin who has created a team of ‘freaks’ called the Sinister Six. The Sinister Six were freaking awesome, Carnage looked fantastic and Electro’s lighting effects were definitely worthy of the character.

Now with every musical, there comes this thing called ‘music.’ How was the music in this musical? I thought it was pretty good. I’m a sucker for the best European band of all time, U2. My Dad loved U2 so I love them as well. Most of the music is fantastic; with ‘A Freak Like Me Needs Company’ being one of the many standouts, along with my favourite song of the musical, ‘Boy Falls From The Sky.’ I dare you to listen to ‘A Freak Like Me Needs Company’ twice without humming the tune. It’s impossible. Trust me. I’ve tried. Every time Rebecca Faulkenberry sings everyone in the crowd feel better, she was freaking awesome. ‘Picture This’ was one of the best songs of the musical and has a HUGE mid 90’s U2 feel to it, which is a good thing by the way.

Overall, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is a fantastic musical and a brilliant take on the Spider-Man character. If you wanted to see a horrible take on Spider-Man I recommend watching the Japanese Spider-Man TV show. Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark offers fun, excitement and joy for the whole family, while giving us fanboys something to smile about. If you are ever in New York, please, please check this show out! 

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