Stunt Malfunctions Reported At SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK Preview

Comic Bookby LiamK

The Broadway musical Spider-Man:  Turn Off The Dark has some production kinks to address, according to the New York Post.  The Post's Michael Riedel attended a preview performance and was confused by the plot and bored by the music.  The performance also had problems with the stuntwork, with actors stuck dangling over the audience on wires.  The performance lasted close to three and a half hours.

As the character (Arachne), played by actress Natalie Mendoza, finished her big number "Rise Above" while suspended over the crowd, an apparent wire malfunction left her stopped in midair -- where she remained for an embarrassing seven or eight minutes as stagehands worked feverishly to figure out the problem.

The stage manager finally said over the loudspeaker, "Give it up for Natalie Mendoza, who's hanging in the air!"

The show had to be stopped four times in the first act alone for various snags.

(Peter) Parker's love interest, Mary Jane, was supposed to be saved from atop the Chrysler Building. But part of the building was missing, and Mary Jane was no where in sight.

As puzzled theater patrons looked around, Spider-Man -- played by Reeve Carney -- suddenly flew in with Mary Jane in his arms and put her down on stage.

He was then supposed to fly off in a dramatic end to the first act.

Instead, Spider-Man got stuck in midair and swung back and forth over the crowd as three stagehands leaped up and down futilely trying to grab onto one of his feet to haul him back to earth.

Another sticky situation involved Spider-Man nemesis Green Goblin, said disgruntled audience members.

As the Goblin -- played by Patrick Page of "Grinch" fame -- sat down at the piano for a scheduled number, he was left to continue playing on . . . and on . . . as stage workers openly rushed around to fix faulty equipment.

Page finally started vamping it up for grateful audience members, riffing on the tune, "I'll Take Manhattan."

The BBC quoted director Julie Taymor as saying that the stuntwork in this musical is so complex for a Broadway production that they expected problems to arise.

The New York Times reported audience laughter at the problems and unclear storytelling:

...Marc Tumminelli, 30, who runs a Manhattan acting school for children, said he was concerned that the musical’s problems were too fundamental to be corrected quickly. “The story-telling is really unclear and I found it hard to understand exactly what was going on and why certain things were happening,” Mr. Tumminelli said.

I can't say I ever thought this production was a good idea, but there is a good chance I will be in New York early next year, and if tickets are still available, I might grab one out of morbid curiosity.  It sounds like this particular performance was basically a rehearsal in front of an audience, and it was a chance for the cast and crew to find out what worked and what didn't, so maybe some of the problems will be ironed out soon.

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