Come on Spider-Man: Turn on the Lights!
I remember when I was a senior in college, 2 years ago, a bunch of my friends were going to auditions for a highly anticipated new musical. “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.” With music by Bono and the Edge and directed by the critically acclaimed Julie Taymor, the show was sure to be a hit and everyone wanted to be a part of it. That was two years ago….
Since then the production team has faced financial difficulties, numerous injuries, and countless technical difficulties. From being originally set to open in January of 2010 to November of the same year the production team has delayed the show once more until March of this year. This last delay will bring the show to a total of 5 delays since it’s original scheduled launch. It’s been in previews since November and many critics are starting to question if it will ever open. If it does open, despite Taymor’s and Bono’s best efforts, many are questioning if it will it just be a $65 Million dollar flop? After all testing audiences have stated the storyline and music as only mediocre O_0
Oh well… considering that I’m a closet comic book fan……. If it ever decides to open I’ll go see this web- slinger any day! Besides the costumes and sets look AWESOME!
Spider-Man Still Seeing troubles………
I think every other day I hear new news on the now branded “Broadway Disaster” Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. This week alone the show has delayed it opening night for the 6th time (The most delays in Broadway history) to late June. Also, in hopes to save the show the producers have canned critically acclaimed, Tony Award winning director Julie Taymor. I can’t say yet if it was a smart move but I can’t blame them, it’s desperation time. Spider-man is the most expensive production to date. However, I kinda wanna see the show before they get rid of all of Taymor’s touches. After all the woman did bring the magic of The Lion King to life.
Spiderman- Lights dim but it’s there
Recently I had the opportunity to see the new Broadway show “Spiderman: Turn off the Dark.” In case you didn’t know this show has been surrounded by controversy since conception. From injuries, delays, rewriting and firing acclaimed director Julie Taymor (The Lion King Musical, Across the Universe) the multi-million dollar production, which was supposed to be Broadway’s next big blockbuster, unfortunately became Broadway’s biggest joke. With each new failure gave critics new ammo to close the show before it even opened. However, even with all the problems Spiderman was still on my “must see’ list due to my love of the theater not to mention I’m a fan of the comic.
I wont lie to you, the first 30 minutes of the show I had a “What is this” face. The opening number had the signature Taymor flash but it made very little sense to me.
The first couple of songs were less than spectacular and Reeve Carney’s rock tone wasn’t helping. Carney’s voice actually just confused me because it didn’t seem to fit a nerdy persona like Peter Parker. However, T.V. Carpio as the Goddess Arachne was perfect. Her tone matched the serene character flawlessly but I digress….
The choreography would have been more effective if it didn’t seem so unrehearsed. Some transitions were very choppy. You could almost see the thin layer of glue they used to piece Julie Taymor’s and replacement director, Glen Berger’s, visions together. But the deal breaker for me was the Blow Up doll they used to represent a wrestler to fight Spidey. I was done and curious to find out where all the money went.
I was about to walk out of the theater when the AMAZING happened, Peter Parker turned into spiderman. Once the stunt man made his first leap over the audience as the costume vigilante I was hooked. As Peter Parker transformed in to Spiderman the show transformed into something worth watching. Forget the stage choreography the aerial work makes up for it. The already very intriguing set becomes even more alive giving the audience the feeling they are watching a comic book come to life and it is really cool. The story line, which was basically a make shift of Sam Raimi’s Spiderman movie franchise, wasn’t overly done and kid friendly. Patrick Page as the Green Goblin brought a new level of wit to the show that was missing in the first half. Last but not least, collectively Bono & The Edge supplied enough note worthy songs to encourage me to download the album. Some are even billboard top 40 worthy. (“Rise Above” has been on repeat. See link) I asked where did the money go and the last hour and thirty minutes of the show answered it for me.
I had my skeptics on how they were going to make a comic book hero into a successful musical. To be honest I can’t even say “Spiderman: Turn of the Dark” is successful example. However, I will say by the end of the show you will be so WOWED and ENTERTAINED. By the end I totally forgot about the beginning and my $40 became well worth it.
Let me start with a story. As a way to earn extra cash I often baby-sit through an agency. (I mean NYC is EXPENSIVE and a girl gotta eat.) I recently babysat this adorable 4-year-old boy who is OBSESSED with Spiderman. I even had to keep him from climbing on the furniture several times. LOL! Any who, it was movie time and he brings me the DVD for “Spiderman 3” which has the following case art:
After convincing the 4 year old the movie is too scary for ME to watch, he looks at me, with complete innocence, and ask, “Why is that Spiderman black?’
Now, because I am a complete comic book GEEK my initial thoughts were, “WHAT!?! How do you not know???? He’s Venom, DUH!!! Come on kid! I THOUGHT YOU WERE A FAN!?!!!!!!” But it would have been wrong of me to
make fun of scold him due to his lack of Marvel education, so I simply said, “Because he’s Venom.” How silly of me to think that would be good enough explanation for a 4 year old? He asks again, “but why is he black?” so I responded, “Because he’s the bad guy.”
At first I didn’t think much of my response. It’s the truth, Venom is one of the villains in the third Spiderman movie thusly a “bad guy”. It wasn’t until the little boy said, “So, the black one is the bad one?” that it hit me. I looked at his innocent little face and could tell he was digesting the thought, “Black one= bad one=evil.” I freaked.
My mind started racing, “What have I done??? Will this be the catalyst that will start a spiral of racial profiling??? OH-EM-GEE!!! Did I just help create another radical conservative!?!?!” (Shameless jab)
Now, it’s possible I was thinking too hard. As a side effect of babysitting various privileged kids I often find myself relating to the Best-Selling novel and Oscar Nominated film, “The Help.” I just think…
So I quickly sat the little boy down and tried my best to explain to him in the simplest, most delicate matter that Venom is AWESOME! In fact he is one of the best characters/villains in the
Spiderman Marvel Universe. That the actual Venom persona is the side effect of an extraterrestrial parasite that attaches it’s self to Spiderman’s suit. Ultimately turning the suit black and causing Spiderman to act irrationally. I tried my best not to focus on the actual color of the suit but the simple fact that when the suit changes color its a visual clue that Spiderman isn’t his usual “friendly” self.
After a 20 minute, well thought out explanation, the little boy turns to me and says, “So when he turns black he turns bad?” LOL!! Bless his heart. Can I blame the kid? He’s 4! How can I expect him to grasp concepts deeper than shapes and colors? Can I blame Stan Lee , the creator of Venom, for having a “black” villain when he also created the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and Sandman? Can I blame myself for not thinking how he might internalize my answer? I don’t know. All I could do was laugh, rub his little head, and say a small prayer that 1.) One day he will understand the concept behind the “Venom Suit” (nerd prayer) 2.) He will not be eternally brainwashed into relating black to bad.
Now most would say I was just being paranoid but was I? Look at what’s happening to our society. Over the last month the amount of racism I have seen in our country has been disgusting. Maybe I just live in a bubble, but I really thought WE, as a people in the United States, had transcended the ignorant thoughts of predecessors in terms of skin color. More specifically the younger generations, who are growing up in a mixed society where there is an African- American president. Call me crazy, but I expect to see more levels of acceptance among our youth. How naive of me?
Instead I fear for our youth. Surfing the web I have come across the most disturbing things and I’m not just talking about the sad case known as Trayvon Martin. I’m talking about the Face book posts, bumper stickers, the public outrage on movie castings, the hate crimes and don’t get me started on the ignorance of twitter. It’s really sad that so many young minds (of all races) feel/ think this way. You really have to wonder, “Where do these kids get this?” The worst part is most of them don’t even realize they’re being racist. SMH! We need to do better.
Many will debate that racism will always be an issue if you keep talking about it but acting like it doesn’t exist and constantly sweeping it under the rug doesn’t help either. The truth of the matter is that racism is ALIVE and KICKING. The evidence is all over the Internet. So you have a choice, you can 1.) Ignore it. Or 2.) You can educate those around you and let them know it’s not ok to judge a person’s moral character based on the color of their skin. At least I tried to explain the “Venom” concept to the little boy. How many of you would have ended the conversation when he said, “So the black one is the bad one?”
Just some food for thought.
Author’s Note: I on purposefully left the little boy’s race out of my story and decided to describe him simply as “Innocent.” I wanted to show that it doesn’t make a difference if he was a Caucasian or Person of Color. If he relates “Black to bad” he could grow up both hating himself and people like him or hating those who don’t look like him. Either outcome is a problem for our society as a whole not just a singular race.