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The 10 Most Hilarious Quotes From the NY Times ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark’ Review

Here at ComicsAlliance, we’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark musical since we first heard that amazingly terrible title, and this weekend the moment came that we’ve been waiting for: The very first preview performance.

Opening night is still a few weeks away — barring any further delays like the ones that kept it from opening as planned last February, it’ll hit the stage for real on January 11 — but yesterday’s preview was open to both the public and the press. Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend, but as is always the case with headline-making events, The New York Times was there with an article that might just end up being a late favorite for the funniest thing to hit newspapers all year.

Seriously, this thing paints a picture of a theatrical train wreck so amazing that it might as well have been written by J. Jonah Jameson himself. If you’re a fan of schadenfreude, and believe me, I am, the whole thing’s worth a read, but for the high points, here are my ten favorite quotes:


#1. I learned everything I know about marketing by watching reruns of Bewitched when I was a kid, but this really doesn’t seem like the way to go about promoting your new show:

Rarely is the very first public run-through of a new musical perfect, and indeed, the creators of this “Spider-Man” - the most expensive and technically ambitious production ever on Broadway – used news media interviews recently to lower expectations that work on the musical was anywhere near done.

Maybe it’s a new technique, though. If so, I look forward to all the movie trailers next year that open with “In a world that’s probably gonna suck…”

#2.

Costing more than twice as much as the previous record-holder for a big-budget show, “Shrek the Musical,” “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” took a bit of time revealing some of the reasons for its high expense.

…that is the first of many flawless backhanded sick burns that writer Patrick Healey is about to drop on Turn Off The Dark.

#3. When I talk about Healey’s mastery of the backhand, I’m not kidding. Check it out:

At 7:23 p.m., an aerial scene began in Peter Parker’s bedroom to the delight of some audience members – yet it was halted two minutes later with the first of four pauses in Act I, apparently to free the lead actor, Reeve Carney (who plays Peter Parker and is one of those playing Spider-Man), from an aerial harness.

Even before he gets to the main point — a malfunction that leaves Peter Parker dangling in mid-air — he drops “to the delight of some,” which is just crushing. Also, the fact that he has the exact time that things went pear-shaped? That is hardcore.

#4. Aside from the recurring theme of “some people liked it, I guess,” the nicest thing anyone says about the show in the entire article..

Most of the night’s major flying sequences – which make up a relative fraction of the show – went off without a hitch, with children and some adults squealing in delight. And there were no signs of injuries, which had been a point of concern after two performers were hurt during an aerial sequence this fall.

…is that it did not physically hurt anyone this time. If I were in charge, that would totally make it to the posters.

#5. I cannot read this without picturing Healey leaning against the back wall of the Foxwoods Theater with a stopwatch in hand:

Crew members, standing on the stage, spent 45 seconds trying to grab Spider-Man by the foot, as the audience laughed and oohed. When they finally caught him, Mr. White announced intermission, and the house lights came on.

It might not sound like it, but trust me: 45 seconds can be a long, long time.

#6. I’ve got to imagine that on a list of the top things one does not want to hear during a Broadway performance, this one ranks near the top:

The intermission began at 8:19 p.m.; it was still under way 34 minutes later when some in the audience began to clap in unison, as they passed their two-hour mark inside the theater. Mr. White, the production stage manager, then said over the microphone, “I know, guys, I know, I beg your patience,” and the clapping stopped.

Also, as a fan of both Spider-Man and insane spectacles, I genuinely hope Turn Off The Dark gets it together and does well, but there’s another part that hopes that it goes so far off the rails that someone writes a book about it called And The Clapping Stopped.

#7. One of the first rules of journalism is to maintain an objective tone, and the ol’ Gray Lady certainly does her best on that front, but this?

The arrival of the first preview – it had originally been scheduled for January, then February, then Nov. 14 – brought out Spidey fans of all ages.

That is clearly the writing of a man who has zero patience for people who don’t make deadlines.

#8. In the interest of due diligence, we also got some response from the audience:

After the show, several audience members said in interviews that they would hold off on recommending the show to friends until improvements were made. Sherry Lawrence, a writer for a U2 fan Web site, said that even though she liked some of the songs, she planned to tell readers to wait for the creators to do more work during previews.But Marc Tumminelli, 30, who runs a Manhattan acting school for children, said he was concerned that the musical’s problems were too fundamental to be corrected quickly. “The story-telling is really unclear and I found it hard to understand exactly what was going on and why certain things were happening,” Mr. Tumminelli said.

If U2 fan-sites are anything like comics blogs, then it’s to be expected that there might be some backlash, but when a guy whose job is to watch school plays thinks your play is beyond all hope? That might be an indicator that you have a pretty serious problem.

#9. There is only one way to save a statement like this…

“I’m hellishly excited, and I can’t believe we’re actually here and it’s actually going to happen,” said Mr. Cohl, a prominent rock concert promoter who was recruited by Bono in 2009 to take over the show after the previous producers could not raise all of the money for it. Mr. Cohl said he hoped that the night would prove to be “one of the great Broadway and show experiences of your life,” but also warned that the performance might need to stop at points.

…and that is to follow in the footsteps of legendary B-Movie director William Castle and assure theatergoers that the production may need to stop for their own safety, and that they will be entitled to a full refund if anyone dies of excitement during the performance.

#10. And from the end of the article, the NYT‘s final word:

When Sunday’s performance did stop, the audience was warmly charitable for the most part. At one point in Act I, Mr. White asked for a round of applause for the actress Natalie Mendoza (who played the villainess Arachne) as she hung in mid-air during a six-minute pause. Later in the act, the actor Patrick Page (as the Green Goblin) improvised a bit by repeating some of the lyrics from his song “I’ll Take Manhattan.”

Translation: People clapped to be polite and the Green Goblin didn’t know his lines. That is, quite possibly the most brutal summary of a performance I have ever read.

Patrick Healy don’t shiv.

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