Spider-Man's Triumphant Return

05/19/2011 03:17 pm ET | Updated Jul 19, 2011
  • Tom Ruprecht Author, 'This Would Drive Him Crazy: A Phony Oral History of J.D. Salinger'

After three weeks spent trying to retool the troubled production, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has made its triumphant return to Broadway. Controversial director Julie Taymor was replaced and another $5 million went towards fixing the show's disastrous high-flying effects. So how is the revamped Spider-Man?

Well, the production took a risk in casting virtual unknown Reeve Carney for the role of Spider-Man. Frankly, the jury is still out on Carney, because a mid-show malfunctioning wire caused him to fly out the back of the theater and he hasn't been seen since. Incidentally, if anyone finds him, producers ask that he be returned to the Foxwoods Theater on 43rd street. (Reeve is six feet tall with light brown hair. He kinda looks like the dude from Arcade Fire if that helps.)

Afterwards producer Laura Ziskin remained upbeat despite the ongoing woes, "There were the typical re-opening night hiccups, but this show is just the kind of big spectacle Broadway needs." Less impressed was critic Ben Brantley, who complained, "a piece of scaffolding fell on my head requiring 27 stitches."

Replacement director Philip William McKinley defended the falling construction as a "creative decision." He explained, "We want this show to be audience-interactive, like Tony & Tina's Wedding.

Much of the initial hype surrounded the hiring of Bono and The Edge to do the score. When Spider-Man opened, however, the plodding soundtrack disappointed fans. As part of the restructuring, producers have fired Bono and The Edge and surprisingly replaced them with Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. Audiences noticed an immediate improvement in the show's music. "This sounds like vintage Joshua Tree," said one thrilled theatergoer, "who knew they were the real geniuses behind U2." When asked about the firing, Bono refused to comment--a first for him.

Not all of the production's problems can be blamed on music and technical difficulties though. The wardrobe department must be held accountable for its sloppy costuming. Particularly egregious was Act Two when Spider-Man arrived inexplicably dressed as Batman.

With a budget that's ballooned north of $70 million, the show is in real danger of going bankrupt. Before his ouster, Bono launched an initiative asking African nations to forgive the massive debt accrued by Spider-Man. That now seems unlikely.

There was one bright spot. The adorable Jennifer Damiano was a delightful surprise to the Imperial Theater audience with her portrayal of Mary Jane Watson. Unfortunately, the Imperial Theater is home to Billy Elliot two blocks away from where Spider-Man is playing. "I'm still figuring my way around the city," an embarrassed Damiano admitted later at a Jersey City Applebee's that she had mistaken for Sardi's.