The Village Voice has had a thing or two to say (and draw) about Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. (And, Spidey’s press flacks have butchered some of what the Voice has said about him.)
But we at Runnin’ Scared hadn’t actually seen it yet. And now that we’ve engaged in that rather expensive (but far more entertaining than one might imagine) experience, we offer these 10 tips if you voluntarily want to step into that sticky web.
1. Go with a six-year-old. If you’ve been waffling, they are the perfect excuse. Watching their face during the flying is worth the money, as are the endless conversations you’ll have with them after the performance is over.
2. Go to a Wednesday matinee. The show is pretty expensive, but the TKTS booths have been selling 30% off tickets to evening shows and 40% off tickets to matinees. Since TKTS sells matinee tickets the day before, the best deal is to buy them at their Brooklyn MetroTech booth around lunchtime on a Tuesday. The line is never more than a few minutes, unlike the sometimes hours long line in Times Square.
3. Don’t go expecting a great musical. It’s not, musically anyway. But it’s a pretty spectacular, well, spectacle, and has a certain magic to it.
4. It does get better as it goes along. The early sequence with Arachne and the women flying with silk features striking Jule Taymor visuals. But “Bullying by Numbers” is as corny and awful a Broadway number as you’re likely ever to see, featuring choreography worse than anything from High School Musical. Whether you’re a U2 fan or not, it’s hard to believe Bono and The Edge wrote a number so abysmal. And yet, it does improve. “Bouncing Off the Walls” is fun, conjuring up thoughts of Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding. The music in Act II is largely forgettable, but sometimes fun and never as bad as at the top of Act I.
5. Sit in Row H, Seat 2 if possible. It’s the best seat in the house, and there’s a moment which, regardless of your age, will be pretty thrilling for you. (Plus, if you’ve got a kid with you, Spidey might just give them a high five.)
6. The multiple performers playing Spider-Man are not disconcerting. We’d read about how the many stunt performers in blue and red tights dissuaded audience members from having any connection with the title role. But in a kind of post-modern way, the show is as open about the multiple Spideys as it is about the wires flying them around. The way in which Peter Parker is revealed as the man under the mask near the end if pretty worthwhile.
7. It’s pretty heteronormative, but fun for gay guys, too. Indeed, the love story between Peter Parker and Mary Jane is about as straight as they come. But despite the fact that much of the camp elements from Julie Taymor’s original vision are gone, we can imagine an all gay audience having a blast at this show…especially during the United Colors of Benneton curtain call for all the men playing Spidey.
8. Don’t take pictures! (Seriously! Even without a flash!) The staff at the Foxwoods Theatre tells people repeatedly not to take pictures. They mean it! When someone does, an usher descends on them and talks them through deleting the images from their phone, then checks to make sure they are deleted. This seriously pisses off the people sitting around them. An usher told us he does this four or five times per show.
9. The understudies are fine. We saw Matthew James Thomas as Peter Parker, who seemed pretty enthused to be utilizing the million cues he has to keep freshly memorized despite only switching out with Reeve Carney a couple times a week.
10. Have fun. If you make the choice to go and see the damn thing, don’t take it too seriously and just enjoy yourself.