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Blog: New York! New York!

I recently got to go on a theatre trip to New York City. We spent two days roaming the streets outside of Time Square and seeing the stages and shows on Broadway. We went on a backstage tour of the musical “Jersey Boys” as well as “The Lion King” by the tech director of the show. We got to speak to the actor who played Simba and then eat dinner with Pumba.

It was cold and windy, but I’ve never truly seen the city before and it was a wonderful delight. I wish I could have stayed longer, but the one thing that made this a trip to remember was seeing one little Broadway show called “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark”.

I’ve never been to a Broadway show before – I’ve only had references of what Broadway is thanks to movies and TV, and surprisingly enough its not just one big diva parade full of drugs and partying. Who knew? The theatre we went was one of the biggest theatres on Broadway which was a nice addition, because everyone was worried about how this show would make back it’s 65 million dollar budget. Well folks, with the biggest theatre completely full every night, I don’t think they’ll have trouble.

The show itself was a spectacle, with enough special effects to make Micheal Bay shed a tear of joy. Pieces of the stage itself rose up a solid fifteen feet, buildings were extended out into the audience, and there was a treadmill at the top of the stage for actors to walk on for walking and running sequences. There were more than enough lights to start an epic rave party and sets that would unfold the story like any comic book.

The dangers that went into this musical were apparent, with actors flying above the audience. The lead broke both of his wrists a few months ago, a stuntman fell thirty feet into the pit of the stage in one performance, the lead female was hit by a wire and got a concussion, and there have been technical difficulties out the wazoo.

Now when the theatre troupe and I saw this, not one thing went wrong. No one fell, no lights broke, no actors broke. During the show I couldn’t help feel that something was going to happen, but after it was all over all I could think was that was awesome.

With that said there were a few setbacks with the story, The writers, for the most part, had a pretty decent story on their hands, but they made up characters that have never been heard of before like Arachnie, a Greek mythological women who is the Goddess of Weaving and slowly through time becomes a spider herself. I can deal with that, I guess. But Killer Bee, a Nazi scientist whose experiments with bees led him to become radioactive and now has the power to turn himself into a swarm of bees, is a bit of a stretch. Lastly, there’s Swiss Miss.

“Who is Swiss Miss?”

“I just made her up.”

I kid you not, that is an actual quote from the show itself.

Now the last two characters were the big problem with me because the writers switched around the iconic Marvel supervillan squad “The Sinister Six”.They have it as Green Goblin, Lizard, Electro, Carnage, Kraven the Man Hunter, Swizz Miss, and Killer Bee, while the original comic books are comprised of Vulture, Doc Oc, Electro, Kraven the Man Hunter, Mysterio, and Sandman.

How do you mess that up? I can see where the writers wanted to add in a couple of characters to go along with the idea that these narrators are coming up with their own Spider-Man story, but really? With the vast array of villains that they could have used in this show, they go with just making up two that sound like something a five year old would doodle on their school work.

Now the music was “eh”- that’s the best I can put it, just “eh”. You can tell when Bono and the Edge (of U2 fame) tried, and when they didn’t. The main theme song is the best of the whole show, plus they had a song called “Rise Above”, which I initially I didn’t like, but it grew on me when the Spiderman character sang it while flying over the members of the crowd.

The lesser numbers of the shows were “A Freak Needs Friends”, during which had Arachnie tried on shoes to win the heart of Peter Parker and become more human (yeah, I know), and the awful, but catchy “Bullied By Numbers” which had all the kids in school beating up Peter. The redeeming side of this dance number was having big cards that read “KRACK” and “BAM” show up on stage like an actual comic book would.

The effects made up for everything that was lacking in this show. For one stupid character, there was a Spider-man montage of him beating up bad guys. For one bad song song, you get the Green Goblin flying directly at you.

To sum it all up, “Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark” is the “Transformers” of musicals. While the effects overshadow a lot of the story, you don’t really notice all that much.

This trip will be one that I remember. Never have I felt more comfortable around teachers and parents in my whole life. This was definitely one of the better trips I’ve gone on in my whole life. So to any one in the theatre department who is reading this, I have one thing to say: GO ON THIS TRIP!

You will not regret it.

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Riley Watson

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