All the weirdos from out of town
And all the freaks always around
All the weirdos in the world
Are here in New York City tonight
Here in New York City tonight
-Freak Like me from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
–Music and lyrics by Bono and Edge
The above odd lyrics pretty much sum up Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Now don’t turn off the computer because you think that I’m about to trash the show that has become controversial for its many accidents and huge budget. No, I have embraced the weirdness of the musical. And believe me, it is one odd show. My reason for the embracement? The huge smiles upon my children’s faces during and after the show. My kids have become veterans of attending Broadway shows and Spider-Man is their favorite. It is easy to see why and here are the reasons:
The Set: The set is amazing. (I snuck in amazing here for comic book folks. Get it? Amazing Spider-Man) Moving buildings that look like they have been ripped out of a comic book and blown up to huge proportions help sweep you away to another world. Children will marvel at the creative designs. (See what I did there? Marvel?)
Dancing: The dancing, like everything else in the show, is completely different than anything that I’ve seen on Broadway. Throughout the show, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the creative ways props were used and the dancing during the fight scenes was a prime example.
Acting: Acting in a show this unbelievable can be a hard task for a performer. Do you play it straight even in the midst of the absurd or do you go the other way and turn it way up and out? Kudos to the actors for finding that balance and deciding when and where to overact and when to be subtle. Of course, the Green Goblin character must be way outside the norm and he was both of my kids’ favorite character, in part because of the superb acting.
Songs: The songs are catchy and if you bring your kids to the show, you and your kids will be singing them on the subway ride home. The song quoted above was my favorite and my seven year old daughter’s favorite song was “Bouncing off the Walls.” Which is fitting for her. My 9 year old son didn’t pick a favorite and said he “liked every bit of every song.” He’s quite the politician.
Stunts: The most talked about aspect of the musical are the stunts. It is the only Broadway show that includes a fight scene over the audience. My inner child came out as I sat below the dangling legs of the Goblin and Spiderman duking it out above me. The acrobatics of the men playing Spider-Man is what gives the audience that “wow factor” that they search for and are hoping for when they see a Broadway show.
As with every review though, there’s always a tiny bit of negativity, and here’s mine. I know I said earlier in the review that I embraced the weirdness, but there was a part of the show that I just couldn’t embrace fully. I’m a bit of a comic book nerd and that might be influencing my feelings. The story of Spider-Man was altered a bit for the show and includes a new character named Arachne. Although the person playing Arachne has a beautiful voice and belts out some of the best songs, the character really isn’t needed. Arachne takes on the role of a type of subconscious advisor and shows up when Parker needs direction. During those moments I couldn’t help but squirm in my seat thinking “that’s not how it is in the comic book.” Those comic book nerds like me will have a tough time accepting the character.
If you are looking for that big Broadway spectacle, then Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is the show for you. Between the great performances, high-flying acrobatics, creative dance moves, and amazing sets; you’ll get your money’s worth. The show is for everyone, but kids especially will be wowed. If you don’t believe me, stand next to the exit some evening and you’ll see a stream of small bodies with big smiles upon their faces exiting the theater.
*New York Metro Parents provided me with tickets for my review, but I was not compensated and the opinions are my own.