Well, it's finally here. SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark has officially opened on Broadway, on Tuesday, June 14 th at the Foxwoods Theatre. The show now features creative consultation by Philip William McKinley, original direction by Tony Award-winner Julie Taymor, music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge, and book co-written by Taymor, Glen Berger and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa .
This time, unlike back in February, the critics were actually invited. Let's see what they thought...
Ben Brantley, The New York Times: So is this ascent from jaw-dropping badness to mere mediocrity a step upward? Well, until last weekend, when I caught a performance of this show's latest incarnation, I would have recommended "Spider-Man" only to carrion-feasting theater vultures. Now, if I knew a less-than-precocious child of 10 or so, and had several hundred dollars to throw away, I would consider taking him or her to the new and improved "Spider-Man."
Elysa Gardner, USA Today: Essential elements of that production remain, along with the flying feats and other high-tech visuals. But the new Spider-Man is cuter and more cautious than its predecessor, more in line with the winking musical adaptations of famous films and brands that have lined the theater district in recent years. Clearly, producers heeded the critics and fans who hoped to see the title character represented more as he'd been in comic books and movies. Specifically, that meant streamlining the story to eliminate a love triangle involving the spider-woman Arachne, who in 1.0 emerged as both protector and nemesis to Spider-Man/Peter Parker and rival to Mary Jane, Peter's girlfriend. The Arachne of 2.0 is a simpler, sweeter creature; the antagonist is now scientist Norm Osborn's deranged alter ego, the Green Goblin, who views Peter/Spidey as his wayward son.
Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: The first act drags as the storytellers pack in as much background as possible, but the pace picks up in Act 2. The songs, by U2's Bono and The Edge, have been gradually Broadway-ized, or at least de-Edge-ified. Gone, for the most part, are tons of jangling guitars. If there was once a sense that this Irish duo could simply write two dozen new songs and plunk them into a musical, that time is gone.
Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: In the last year, "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" has gone from artistic oddity to conventional family entertainment. Between that and the strength of its brand name, it's ready to join Madame Tussauds and Shake Shack on a tourist's Times Square itinerary.
Evie Nagy, Rolling Stone: But still, for the grown-up snarkers among us, the new Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is a little too blandly and competently whipped into shape to be the unforgettable hot mess we've collectively embraced. Shortly after Norman Osborn's transformation, the Green Goblin wink-nudgingly refers to himself as a "65 million dollar circus tragedy - well more like 75 million." Man, if only.
Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg News: But the cloth now looks wrinkled and tired, as does much of a cast that has been giving its all for so long. The songs still stop the show in its tracks because they're pop songs, not theater songs that get inside the characters while advancing the plot.
Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal:And there you have it: $70 million and nearly nine years of effort, all squandered on a damp squib. To be sure, the people who came to last Saturday's sold-out press preview seemed to be enjoying themselves, though they saved their cheers for the flying, not the songs. No doubt "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" will continue to draw crowds, if only because it's been written about with such pendulum-like regularity. But it's neither good enough to get you excited nor bad enough to make you mad, and that will in all likelihood be its epitaph: Never in the history of Broadway has so much been spent to so little effect.