Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Spider-Man vs. The Unstoppable Broadway Disaster
As a long-time Spider-Man fan, I've been doing everything possible to avoid gawking at the press coverage of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the never-ending train wreck that's supposed to be a musical about Spidey. Ryan Dixon, co-author of Hell House: The Awakening and regular contributor to the Fierce and Nerdy blog, recently posted a detailed analysis of why this production keeps going in spite of the fact that this production is doomed no matter what. It's a good read, and it makes many insightful points about live musical theater and why colossal Broadway flops are successes in their own bizarro-esque way.
Curiously, Turn Off the Dark isn't the first Spider-Man musical. There was another one back in 1999, Spider-Man On Stage, which was performed in the U.K. (This show is mentioned in the book Marvel: The Characters and Their Universe with a handful of glossy, full-color pictures of the production.) Sure, it wasn't a blockbuster hit and it didn't produce any songs that will turn up in a "Best of Broadway" music collection, but at least it didn't have performers falling to their near deaths and winding up in the hospital. Then again, maybe the producers of Turn Off the Dark should invest in a few dozen of these items and just let them do the show instead. The outcome couldn't possibly be any worse and it would save a bundle on medical bills.
I can't help but to think that if this were a comic book, the Turn Off the Dark musical would turn out to be a plot concocted by Spider-Man's theatrically minded villain Mysterio, in cahoots with J. Jonah Jameson, to discredit Spider-Man. If anything, this plot would have a much more campy appeal than any of the Spider-Slayer story arcs. Sam Raimi, are you listening?