Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark gets a makeover

We just got back from Spider-Man. This is the second time we’ve seen a show before and after they fixed it (The Addams Family was the first). The original version was so bad it prompted me to write a review entitled Spiderman: Turn Off the Suck. This version of Spider-Man is nearly a total rewrite. I’d say more than half the dialogue was new. They added 30 minutes of exposition to explain the plot and motivations, rearranged some confusing scenes, re-staged most scenes, cut several subplots that didn’t work, made much better use of their moving video walls, and essentially discarded the original act 2, nearly in its entirety. They also got rid of the “geek” chorus, the spiders with mannequin legs and the lonely guitarists standing at the edge of the stage.

In the original version, the main villain, the Green Goblin, died very early in the show, and the second act was incomprehensible nonsense about a spider goddess making Peter Parker think New York had been destroyed so he would fall in love with her. Thankfully, that is gone, and now the Green Goblin survives until the very end. Because he was so funny, they have given him several opportunities to essentially do a standup schtick with the audience, and there is a hysterical bit where he tries to navigate a voice mail system to leave a threatening message. This also moves the climactic battle to the end of the show. Duh. These changes have upgraded the show from a D- to a B+. It was an expensive but shrewd move to close this show for six weeks, dump director Julie Taymor and start over. I applaud those who had the guts to take a chance on it.

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