The first change you’ll notice at Turn Off The Dark 2.0 is the program:
The program for Taymor’s production featured a logo in which “Turn Off The Dark” was larger than “Spider-Man.”
“Spider-Man” is now the focus of the revised wordmark, with “Turn Off The Dark” taking its place as the smaller subtitle.
This adjustment might seem minor, but it perfectly sums up the significant changes made to the musical, which resumed previews after a three-plus week performance hiatus.
“Welcome to all you ladies, gentlemen, and uninvited critics,” said Lead Producer Michael Cohl, who appeared onstage prior to the start of the show with his partner Jeremiah J. Harris. “This is, as some peoples say, the hundred forty-sixth preview, but it’s our second first preview. The crew have been magnificent for six weeks, and the new creative team and cast have been killing themselves.”
We’ve got six new flights in the show. We’ve changed the story considerably, and in fact, it’s almost a brand new show.”
Perhaps Mr. Cohl should reconsider his “killing themselves” comment for tomorrow’s preview. Let’s put that aside, though, and focus on his assertion that this is a brand new show.
Well, let’s start with the things that haven’t changed. Considering the show “ranked among the worst” according to Brantley, one might be surprised to see how much of the original Taymor production has been retained for Spidey 2.0. All of the major spectacles are still on display, most of the sets and costumes are untouched, and large chunks of the original script remain.
Arachne is also still around. In fact, the show now opens with Peter Parker introducing her and the stunning weaving sequence. The character is quickly relegated to a cameo role, though, with two more insignificant musical appearances.
Speaking of the music, it is essentially the same. Numbers have been revised and shuffled around, but the casual observer will be hard-pressed to identify any major changes. Even the new Act II opener “Freak Like Me,” borrows part of its chorus from the infamous cut number “Deeply Furious.”
With all of these elements staying so close to their original incarnations, it might be hard to imagine how the producers could claim this is a brand new show. Enter Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Along with “Creative Consultant” Phillip William McKinley, Mr. Aguirre-Sacasa has simplified the plot and brought some much-needed clarity to the production. The second act, in particular, has been rewritten from the ground up.
The biggest winner from these changes is Patrick Page. In his expanded role as Green Goblin, he steals the show effortlessly.
Some other notable changes:
- Adjustments to the score and sound design make the lyrics slightly more intelligible.
- The Geek Chorus is gone. Their absence only helps move the show along.
- If you like exposition, you’ll LOVE Act I.
- Technical issues were plentiful, but there were no show-stoppers. The crew should have no problem ironing out the small hiccups before the June 14 opening.
- Chris Tierney has rejoined the cast. His presence onstage gave the cast a visible jolt of energy.
- There are some snappy jokes and geeky references that connected with the audience (having seen the show six times, this was a first).
- Following the enthusiastic curtain call, the cast could be heard cheering loudly from behind the curtain for quite some time.
Spider-Man 2.0 is a better show in nearly every way than the production that closed just a few weeks ago. This may sound like the ultimate knock against Ms. Taymor, but it shouldn’t be taken as such. The [Original] Creator’s design work and grandiose flourishes are still the most impressive parts of Turn Off The Dark.
The new creative team was given a set of giant, expensive stage toys to play with, and they have strung together a workable show from them.
That the show has improved is beyond question; Whether the show has improved enough is what audiences and critics alike will be asking themselves over the weeks to come.
As always, stay tuned to TurnOffTheBlog.com for your complete Spidey coverage.