Leonard: The best idea ever

Edward Leonard

The date that everyone has been waiting for with bated breath is almost upon us. And it’s falling only five months later than expected! “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” is set to premiere in little more than a week.

For those just tuning in, “Turn Off the Dark” is the newest iteration of the age-old Spider-Man entertainment franchise. This time it’s in an entirely new medium: the Broadway musical.

Though a musical about a masked maurader with a beautiful singing voice may seem like a bulletproof idea, the production has been marred by myriad problems.

The foremost of these have been the cast injuries. Five of the performers have now been injured in the show. In fact, one of the actresses (T. V. Caprio, who was cast as Arachne) even quit after suffering several injuries, including being hit in the head with flying equipment during one of the more ambitious fight sequences.

And she is far from being the only injured party. There are multiple scenes in which the actors and actresses have aerial battles. These battles often require them to fly off the stage and into the audience. While you might think this would be a great idea with no possible repercussions for anyone, it turns out that assumption is completely wrong. In fact, the stunt double for Spider-Man even had his harness snap during a preview performance in December, causing him to fall more than 20 feet and land in the orchestra pit. Though he avoided being impaled on a cello, he was seriously injured and had to be hospitalized for a non-trivial amount of time.

As well as  being deadly, “Turn off the Dark” is also the most expensive show in the history of Broadway, with the New York Times pegging  its cost somewhere around $70 million. Although the show brought in an unprecedented $1.5 million the first week tickets were available, that’s hardly enough to sustain the show for the course of its run. Its weekly operating cost is estimated to be $1 million.

The critics, for some reason, aren’t being particularly kind either. Although critics typically wait until a show is released to review it, it looks as though the 4-month extended preview period has convinced them to start looking early. One disappointed critic asked, “How could $65 million look so cheap?”

There is, however, one notorious man with the courage to stand up and say that he believes the show is a success. Glenn Beck, of former Fox News fame, has seen several of the preview shows and has expressed none of the short-sighted hangups on “quality” or “sensible plot” that seem to plague these other critics.

But with such original thinking, I fail to see how anyone could possibly have been disappointed by this attempt at entertainment. It looks like the show will even add a previously unheard of character to the Marvel lineup: a new villain named “Swiss Miss.” Though you might expect otherwise, he is, in fact, male. At one point, he attacks Spider-Man and an outlandishly costumed Mary Jane Watson.  His weapons of choice are knives rather than cheap packets of instant hot chocolate.

This is the kind of high-level thinking that one would expect from Bono and The Edge, both of U2 fame. Nothing but the best of entertainment has ever come from that band’s front-line members.

So fierce is their vision, in fact, that the producers and music writers of the show had to fire the original director of the show for failing to submit to their will. The new director, having been recently installed, meekly changed the ending of the play to match the wishes of his new overlord, thus readying the show for it’s undoubtedly world-changing public premiere.

Excitement surrounding the musical has reached such a pitch that Spider-Man himself gave it a nod in the newest comic (Amazing Spider-Man #663), saying, “If they were gonna do a story of my life right now, it would have to be a big Broadway musical!”

While it might seem that a Broadway musical with a rocker-penned score, flying people and hot chocolate is a can’t-fail idea, it will probably actually end in unmitigated disaster. So get excited.