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Spidey Senses: Star Always Turned On By Turn Off the Dark

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SPIDERMAN MAKES MONEY
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Photo/Jacob Cohl

Months removed from the last stunt mishap, and weeks after the question of "will it ever open" was finally laid to rest, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark star Reeve Carney can now focus on the work and nothing but the work. Actually, the man who soars through the crowd, dons tights and plays beloved über nerd Peter Parker eight days a week at the Foxwoods Theatre said he's always managed to "turn off" the jokes at the show's expense, the critics, and the skeptics throughout Spidey's costly months-long tremulous journey to Opening Night.

"I tried to avoid any articles, but it's unavoidable in New York. But, I know everyone has a job to do. Journalists are actors as much as thespians," he said in an interview last week.

What got Carney, a New Yorker who also fronts the band "Carney," through the entire process was being part of a once-in-a-lifetime stage experience he believed in, an opportunity to work with U2's Bono and The Edge, and the Spidey sense that the show would make it. Now that the jokes have stopped, and the show has opened, Carney's belief and dedication has paid off -- literally. Turn Off the Dark is close to selling out or sold out each performance, and Carney said standing "O's" have been the norm each night he "bounces off the walls..."

I spoke with the actor/singer briefly and asked him about those "O's," staying on track when the show was off track, and overcoming that world-wide web of criticism.

It's been a roller coaster getting to the opening, did you ever have reservations about sticking with the show?
I really didn't. I was just excited. I mean there were so many challenges that were unique to this particular job, but I was always excited to take it on. I always loved stunt shows as a kid, and used to try and do my own. I never thought I'd get paid not only to do that, but to use my ability as a singer, to act, and to fly around a theater.

Bono and The Edge got very involved toward the end -- did you have a good rapport with them from start to finish?
Yes... whenever they were here. The thing is they had commitments and with all delays, if they had been used all the time, they'd be letting down [millions] of fans. But, they were very hands on. They taught me so much, obviously on things specific to songs, but also stuff that I will carry as a musician. They told me about their experiences working with big dogs be it record companies or different corporations, and how you have to operate their way to function. The larger you are, the more people you have to go through and convince them of something.

Did Spider-Man interfere with your band Carney?
At first, I didn't have time with working here. All of my waking hours were at the theater and even if I had a few hours, I'd use my voice so much I couldn't. We actually now have rehearsals. I do shows, and it's fantastic and rehearse before. It's a nice life.

Have you had time to write new material for Carney -- perhaps incorporate your Spidey experience in the material?
I don't know but I have so many songs ready to go. But, I'm trying to focus on writing a few high-quality songs that connects with people. We have a few albums of material... but you need that hit.

Lastly, getting back to Spider-Man, the sold-out audiences I'm sure have helped overshadow some that initial negative press the show received at first, no?
It's always at least 90 percent full. I didn't expect them to write anything nice about us. I understand a critic's job is to sell papers and people who write about art have a responsibility to themselves and their readers to maintain a certain level of consistency.

The bad reviews never bothered me. I just look at critics and try to appeal to them as human beings. I do value their presence as humans. It's just a fun show and hopefully people will find it entertaining. Audiences have always loved the show. It's a nice addition to Broadway and it's a little different. I like the idea that there's room on Broadway for something like this and Jerusalem. I'm glad to just be a small part of Broadway.