Spiderman: Turn off your expectations

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If you’re a fan of classic broadway shows, musical theater, and great entertainment experiences you may have heard about the most expensive broadway production every mounted. You must be living under a rock if you’re hearing this for the first time, but They made a Broadway Show out of Spiderman!

If you came here hoping that this would be a big bash-fest, you’re about to be disappointed – I enjoyed the show, and would see it again, but not in New York. Keep reading – it gets better.

What’s Wrong with Spiderman?

Despite being in previews for an extended period  and going through several revamps, the story still seems glued together like the panels on a storyboard. The production feels disjointed and heavily edited – unlike some well written stories that flow easily from scene to scene.

The story of Arachne is explored from the beginning of the show and the mythical spider herself appears a few times to guide Peter Parker on his journey – which is entirely pointless and does not advance the story in any way, but is very cool to watch. You can see the money at work in this show – it is very dark, and very beautiful.

In truth, this extravagant, lumbering, largely plotless and tedious story depends on some decent music and some amazing technical effects to pull off it’s magic. The characters are two-dimensional, which isn’t surprising since they are lifted from the pages of a comic book.

So What’s Good about Spiderman on Broadway?

Reeve Carney (Spiderman) does a good job with a physically and emotionally demanding role, he’s the right man for the job, but did look very strained as he descended from the ceiling to take his final bow at the end.

Spiderman is not high art – but it is good fun. It’s a universal studios attraction, it’s a ride movies kind of feel. It’s exciting – Spiderman has huge set pieces. It’s got not so very good music – despite having a score written by Bono – the only song stuck in my head after the show was the incredible choreography and slow-motion effects in bullying by numbers and the very catchy “A Freak Like Me” – which you should now watch before you continue:

What’s the best place to sit for Spiderman Turn off the dark at the Foxwoods theater in New York?

Don’t spring for the front row premium seats – you will cry when you realize that all the cool flying effects are happening behind you, or so far above the stage you’ll have to crane your neck to see what’s going on. TKTS tickets are a crap-shoot, if you get stuck on the main floor under the balconies you’ll miss some of the high-wire antics as well. Your best bet for a great view of everything is to get some of the “flying circle” seats.

Since spiderman makes such a huge visual impact, consider strongly paying a premium for the first three rows of the first balcony (mezz), or the first row of the 2nd balcony. Mezz Center would be my choice if I was going back, or 2nd balcony right side (There is a landing pad there that is used by Spiderman a few times during the show, and would give children a huge thrill to see Spiderman drop down in front of them.

My last word on Spiderman

The real truth about Spiderman is that it is not a traditional Broadway show. This is a Universal Studios attraction that was built in the wrong place. Broadway is the place for musical theater it’s a place for comedy it’s the place for high art.

If I was recommending a show for your first Broadway experience.. I would not recommend Spiderman – I’d recommend you see anything else: Go see Phantom, How to Succeed or  Wicked, but if you seen everything else and you’re looking for something that’s fun, campy and you happen to want to see Spiderman swing around a theater (which is very cool), go and see Spiderman. It’s not a bad show. It’s just not a very good show. It’s average.

Average is fine and good, but when you frame it as some other types of entertainment the story changes: It’s a terrible play, middling musical, overpriced and over-hyped production that will run it’s course and eventually find a home at Universal Studios or possibly Disneyworld. Which is exactly where it belongs – in a theme park full of families and comic book fans, not on Broadway.

Just don’t expect too much in the way of tradition from this show.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75Buk7WGq9g

Getting Tickets to ‘Turn off the dark’

If you’re hoping to buy your tickets, you should consider the box office only if you can get the best seating area for this show (see above notes). Failing that, check the TKTS booth as you will almost certainly be able to get some at 40% off at the last minute, try to avoid being under the balcony on this one, you will miss some of the aerial action, but not much. GoldStar had an offer for Spiderman tickets not long ago, which tells you everything you need to know: the show sells out, but only with the help of discounted ticket offers like this one from back in March.

Halloween Special for Spiderman the Musical

Playbill is reporting that:

At both the 1:30 PM and 7:30 PM performances on Oct. 26, 2011 the first 100 people at the Foxwoods Theatre box office one hour prior to curtain can get one child’s ticket free with the purchase of one full-price adult ticket when the child (age 4-15) is wearing a full Spider-Man costume. (All children in costume at the matinee performance will also be invited to meet Spider-Man and take a photo with him immediately following the performance.)

This offer is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Additional allocations may be offered based on availability. The free kid’s ticket is redeemable for ages 4-15 only with purchase of an adult ticket at the $149.50 price level.

Costumes may be homemade or store-bought but must be a head-to-toe resemblance of Spider-Man. “Management and/or box office staff has the right to determine eligibility of the costume,” according to a press statement.

About the author

WiseGuy enjoys broadway shows, live events of all kinds, and sitting in the front row (except for big productions like this). If you need tickets to a show in New York, or anywhere else in the country check out his blog for information on how to buy tickets before the public using presale passwords.