Theater Review - 'Spider-Man' - Don't Be So Quick To Write Off The Dark NPR's Bob Mondello reviews Julie Taymor's much-criticized $65 million Broadway epic — and while it's not so good, it's not as bad as you might have heard. With a few changes (and a whole lot of cutting down), it might even be fun when it finally gets its official opening night.
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'Spider-Man': Don't Be So Quick To Write Off The Dark

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'Spider-Man': Don't Be So Quick To Write Off The Dark

'Spider-Man': Don't Be So Quick To Write Off The Dark

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W: Finally last week, after months of previews, critics gave up waiting and published their reviews, and "Spider-Man" got panned. We asked NPR's Bob Mondello to check out this work in progress, and tell us what patrons are seeing for as much as $275 a seat.

BOB MONDELLO: This is not thrilling. In fact, it's getting a little old. Spidey's done it a couple times to no particular effect. But this time, when Spidey joins the Goblin up there, Director Julie Taymor has him do something he has not done before. To surprised oohs from the crowd, he lands in a tense crouch in the theater aisle. Spidey has touched down.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONDELLO: Now, notice, this is not a musical moment created by Bono and the Edge. It has nothing to do with the show's striking but flat set design. It's not even about the aerial work, which for the most part will not make your Spidey-sense tingle.

W: put you close to a live actor. And suddenly, you're not thinking about wires and harnesses but about knee joints and tendons. Flying is mechanical; landing takes skill. And in live theater, when it's happening right next to you, you immediately get the difference.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

U: (Singing) See how the boy falls from the sky.

MONDELLO: I get why Taymor, who is a classical-theater buff, wants to bring in something non-comic-booky, but she's kind of trying too hard. A geek chorus of four kids second-guessing plot twists? First-act playground bullies who morph into a second-act military-industrial complex? A weird fixation on bad-guy fashions and spider high heels? Throw all that at a web, and things are bound to get tangled, even when the lyrics are clear.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

U: (Singing) You can change your mind, but you cannot change your heart. It's a compass and a map, the key to the jar.

MONDELLO: Lyrics, let's note, are not this show's strong suit. What "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark" wants to be is a theme park - oddly, a $65 million theme park where patrons only get to watch other people ride the rides.

: Junk the film montage in Act 2, keep the flying, and even keep that gal Arachne, though she probably doesn't need quite so many costume changes. Just get the whole thing down to 85 snappy minutes.

: I'm Bob Mondello.

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