New York U2 show hangs by a thread


HOW DO you convert the whizz-bang acrobatics of Spider-Man into a live Broadway show? With difficulty, judging by Sunday’s preview show.

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Darklived up to its reputation as one of the greatest gambles in musical history when it gave its first public performance to an audience of 1,900 at the Foxwoods theatre in Manhattan. The problem was that its record-breaking budget of more than $65 million (€50 million) was not enough to prevent some glaring glitches.

The show – directed by the award-winning creator of The Lion King, Julie Taymor, and with music by U2’s Bono and The Edge – had to be stopped five times to correct faulty technical equipment. The dramatic cliffhanger at the end of the first half, in which Spider-Man saves his girl Mary Jane and then flies through the air across the auditorium to make an exit, ground to a halt when Reeve Carney, playing the superhero, was left swinging helplessly above the audience. It took stage hands almost a minute to catch Carney by the feet to drag him down, and later there was some heckling.

The convention of Broadway has traditionally been to maintain a blackout on all previews to give shows time to iron out their wrinkles before opening to a blaze of publicity on press night. That’s particularly important for a show like Spider-Manthat has been beset by funding problems, technical nightmares and multiple delays.

But in the age of Twitter and blogging, and with huge interest around the first preview, there was no way that the producers were going to keep chatter at bay until opening night on January 11th.

Several of the New York papers were in the audience, breaching the agreement over treating previews as non-events. The New York Post’s Michael Riedel, who has taken delight at baiting the hapless production over many months, declared the preview an epic flop, with dull score, baffling script and “confusing plot”. The New York Timeswas a little more generous, reporting that most of the main flying sequences were successful, “with children and some adults squealing in delight”.

Audience members also gave their instant feedback on Twitter.

Film producer Ira Deutchman tweeted that the set pieces were spectacular, the flying looked genuinely dangerous, “but the music isn’t good enough to hold it together. Definitely needs work in the six weeks until it opens. It’s incoherent.” – ( Guardianservice)