Spiderman the Musical is so Bad It’s GOOD

Posted by Anthony - February 11, 2011 - Uncategorized - No Comments

So, this is not filmmaking-related, but felt I just had to share my perspective on one of the most popular topics in entertainment at the moment…

So last night I went to see Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, the infamous new Broadway musical. I wanted to see it despite all the negative pre-publicity it got and even despite the scathing review this week in the New York Times. I really wanted to like it, especially after all the bad-hype and digs it’s taken in the media. I was hoping it would be like the story of the making of James Cameron’s Titanic. (Remember all the trash the media was spreading while the movie was still being made – before it went on to become the highest grossing feature of all-time, wow audiences and win Oscar gold?)

Well, I’m happy to say that I DID end up liking Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, but not because it was so good, but because it was sooooo BAD. It was so bad that it was actually fun to watch the spectacle unfold and wonder what cheesy, over-the-top, poorly written thing would come next and to try to guess where all that $65 Million went. I would equate it to watching Roller Derby, Professional Wrestling or a Troma movie…so bad and over-the-top that it’s fun to experience. I really think there’s a reasonable chance that Spiderman could become the first cult-classic Broadway play. – People may go just to make fun of it and see how bad it is.

I could easily see groups of people going in dressed as their favorite character, saying the bad dialogue along with the cast and coming up with their own shout-outs and audience participation routines. Or perhaps it will become the stoner comedy of Broadway…”Dude, let’s go see Spiderman again this weekend!”

One big caveat I must make clear here is that I got heavily-discounted tix at $52.00 each via my day job and took my 7-year old son, Tai, who really wanted to see it. (And genuinely enjoyed it through and through.) Had I paid the $140.00 each going rate for tix, I might not have been merely so amused. [pictured above: Spidey get's stuck for a minute or two due to technical difficulties]

As much as I thought they were being unfair and harsh on the production, I think the NY Times review was a pretty accurate picture of what I experienced, so I won’t go into more specifics except to point out that the music was completely unmemorable and mostly sounded the same – lame. The story is a jumbled mess of silly exposition, non-sensical dream/fantasy sequences and just an ill-conceived plot that has very little to do with the actual Spiderman comic or story. The very best and most impressive parts are all the parts that have nothing to do with Spiderman, but involve a character called Arachne, a kind of sexy (if you’re into that sort of thing) evilish spider Goddess whose costume, numbers and back-up spider minions were a great visual spectacle. In fact, everything that actually involved spiders (usually not Spiderman) was pretty entertaining on the whole.

The only salvation I see for this ill-conceived show, is to embrace it’s cheesy, ill-conceived “craptitude” let’s call it, and play it up for laughs and encourage the audience participate, shout out and maybe even throw things at the stage. If they did that, and maybe lowered ticket prices by half, no doubt this show will continue to sell-out and be a Broadway “hit” for years to come.

You gotta see it for yourself.

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