While visiting New York City a few weeks ago, my mother and I were given the amazing opportunity to see our first Broadway show, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. I’d heard mixed reviews about this first-of-its-kind Broadway experience, but the Spidey fan in me had faith that it would be a night to remember.
The show is housed at Foxwoods Theater on West 42nd/West 43rd Street in Times Square—a perfect place for anyone who wants to make a night out of the event. Hard Rock Café, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., and Juniors Cheesecake are all within walking distance, so you can grab a bite before or after without going too far. I highly recommend Juniors, but to get a table you need to arrive really early. Hard Rock is my next favorite choice because they were able to get my mom and me in and out pretty quickly, without compromising service.
I’ve never been inside a real Broadway theater before so I was surprised at how small the Foxwoods Theater felt. Someone told me that there are smaller theaters on Broadway and my first reaction was, “Where? The Broom Closet Theater?” Turns out the theater size was just right for the show: It didn’t feel overcrowded, even though the house was packed!
As the lights dimmed, the orchestra boomed and the show began with Peter Parker wasting no time before taking center stage.
The story takes us to Peter’s origins as an ordinary teenager in love with the girl-next-door, Mary Jane. After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter’s life is turned upside-down as we watch him try to protect the citizens of New York and maintain a “normal” home life. Unfortunately, the Green Goblin has other plans for Spider-Man and we watch Peter’s life unravel as he tries to bring balance to his dual-identity and save New York City from the Sinister Six.
A lot of the storyline seemed to be inspired by the first live-action Spider-Man movie in 2002, with a few major, but nice, differences. Norman Osborn still transforms into the Green Goblin and Uncle Ben still gets to utter his big line to Peter (yup, don’t worry, “With great power, comes great responsibility” wasn’t entirely left out of the show). We’re also introduced to the spider-spirit Arachne, a new addition to the Spider-Man universe that I enjoyed a great deal, who guides Peter on his journey to learn more about who he is and what he has become.
Our seats were in the middle of the orchestra section or what most would call the “the best seats in the house.” It was a thrilling experience to have the action going all over the place and at times, it felt like the aerial stunts were being performed within an arm’s reach of our seats. After seeing the show from this angle, I’m excited to change it up next time and sit in the flying circle where all the aerial stunts are performed.
I love music, so I was as excited to hear the show as I was excited to see it. Reeve Carney, the actor who played Peter/Spidey is easy on the ears and the eyes. My favorite scene in the show was when he appeared as “both” Spider-Man and Peter Parker simultaneously during the musical number “Boy Falls From the Sky.”
Composed by Bono and The Edge, the music was rock and roll all the way. I’m a little disappointed that not all of the songs in the show are on the soundtrack, but they captured my favorites: “Rise Above” and “Boy Falls From The Sky”—both sung by Carney—and the duet “No More,” performed by Carney and Jennifer Damiano.
The characters were all ably written and portrayed. Mary Jane (Rebecca Faulkenberry) complimented Reeve Carney so nicely, it was easy to buy into them being friends. The geek in me half-hoped they would walk out the stage door together after the show.
Reeve wasn’t the only one wearing the latest Spider-Man costuming this year. He was joined by nine other performers who helped bring the web-slinger to life in the aerial stunts and other choreography where more than one Spidey is called for. To achieve the look of only one Spidey, all the Spider-Man actors wear a muscle suit to give them the same appearance while performing. These are the performers who take on the most risk when performing and a couple have gotten injured in the three years the show has run. The most notable was Christopher Tierney, who recently left the show after three years as one of the aerial stunt performers.
Robert Cuccioli played the role of the Green Goblin, and I have to say, for a cute guy, he makes for a wonderful villain. Unfortunately, he was so convincing in his role, I can’t recommend this show for young viewers. It’s one thing to see the Green Goblin on TV, but to see him up close and in 4D was a little intimidating, even for me!
The age-span in the audience was actually really cool to see—there were families with children of all ages, some who were tear-free and others who I could tell were a little frightened during the show. My son is 8-years-old and I’m up in the air about whether or not he could have handled the Green Goblin, especially since I heard that in some shows he comes out into the audience!
After the show, make sure you grab your playbill and head out the 43rd Street entrance, because that’s where the cast exits the theater, and most are kind enough to come out and take pictures or sign autographs. It was really cool getting to meet some of the actors and actresses and talk to them for a few seconds. I plan on having my ticket and playbill framed with a few of the pictures my mom took of me and Reeve Carney.
While waiting for the cast to come out at the stage door, I had a chance to get a good look at the variety of people in attendance. You know how in the movies, everyone in the theater is always dressed to the nines in three-piece suits and fancy gowns? That’s not reality. In fact, I didn’t see many people dressed up at all. With that said, have some fun with your attire and show your Spider-Man spirit. As for myself, aside from having a GeekMom press badge around my neck, I was dressed pretty casually in jeans, black blazer, and my favorite “Keep Calm and Call Spider-Man” shirt—and I looked over-dressed for the occasion.
On our way back to the hotel, my mother and I couldn’t stop talking about everything we’d seen. The music, the cast, the atmosphere—it was all perfect. In the end, we couldn’t have asked for a better first Broadway show experience than Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. If you are in the area, I highly recommend you stop by and see what I’m talking about first hand. If nothing else, make sure you pick up the soundtrack. And don’t sweat it if you don’t know much about Spider-Man’s history, because my mom doesn’t read comics and hadn’t seen the Spider-Man movies but still absolutely loved our theater experience!
Since seeing the show, I’ve thought about all the other comic book stories that this could have been, and I’ve realized Spider-Man is the only comic book I know for which a musical actually works. I know Superman had a musical at one point and Batman is on tour, but Peter Parker and Mary Jane are the only major comic book characters I can think of that can break out into song and not look stupid.
If you plan on making a trip to New York City before January 4th, stop by Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark‘s website for show times and ticket information.