Benjamin2011-02-09
Turn off the Dark!

Julie Taymor is my idol--I want to devote my life to doing what she does, quite literally. It\'s possible that my shows would be a little more analytic than here\'s, but the bottom line is that her and Terry Gilliam basically make the kind of art that I want to make. Except, you know, I\'m too bust filling out reimbursement forms.

I also love the fact that she\'s said in an interview \"I love it when people say, \'What a horrible, lousy idea\'. I think that\'s great. I hate the comfort zone\". I really think that that\'s the way (or at least one excellant way) to make Good Art.

Sadly, it seems that people are hating her new Spider-man musical. It\'s hard to tell for sure how correct they are about its worth--I thought that Across the Universe was pretty great*, and apparently everyone hated that too.

There are reviews everywhere just now--today was the day that it was most recently scheduled to open, and even though they have extended the previews still further, a huge number of critics decided to review it \"early\". Which is fair, because I\'m told that preview tickets start at ninety bucks. I suppose when I read this in the Glorious Future I\'ll have more information about the show, but for now I wanted to post two things.

First of all, a review from a fellow on Metafilter, a community site to which I belong:

I saw a preview this weekend. You know, it doesn\'t completely suck. The mythology part of the storyline is annoying and undermines the arguably pro-science framing of the plot (climate change is real, evolution is real, and the problem with the mad scientist is the mad part, not the science part). The songs lack hooks. The storytelling isn\'t tight (yet).

But it\'s a Julie Taymor joint, and a lot of it is quite visually interesting. There\'s a bit too much extended video projection for my taste, but it plays out interestingly on moving panels. And there\'s some very interesting play with the sense of scale, which I loved. And it\'s nice to go to a Broadway show where you don\'t feel like the vertical dimension is being ignored.

And the audience around me really loved it, especially the flying. I was like, flying, meh, but kids were squealing every time he took off, and when spidey landed on the balcony rail (I was literally in the last row) and ran out through the emergency exit (twice I think), folks up there were going wild. That energy makes me guess the show has at least a 40% chance of sticking around for a while--and then some further chance that someone will build a special theatre for it in Vegas, since there\'s no way it\'s gonna tour.

I was ready to be a snobby hater, but I had a good time.

posted by Mngo at 11:44 AM

Even better, though (and even better than robocop is bleeding\'s Les Mis parody) is the following:

Cobwebs (1982); music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; directed by Harold Prince.

Synopsis: The first act follows Peter Parker, a nerdy orphan growing up in Forest Hills, Queens in the early sixties, through the usual story beats: vague adolescent restlessness (\"Spectacles\"), irradiated spider bite (\"A Little Sting\"), apprehension of unusual abilities (\"A Little Tingling\"), over-confidence (\"With Great Powers\"), the death of Uncle Ben (\"Loving May Reilly\"), romance with Mary Jane Watson (\"Jackpot\" - still a signature tune for Bernadette Peters), and triumph over the Green Goblin at the cost of his childhood friend Gwen Stacy\'s life (\"One More Day\").

The second act starts over from the beginning. This time, slight variations to lyrics and blocking soon find the spider crushed under Peter\'s heel before it can bite him (\"A Little Step\"). From there, the musical becomes a bittersweet coming of age story with a theme of missed chances (\"Cobwebs\") and mundane heroism. At the climax, the newly married Peter decides to forgo a fling with Mary Jane, and returns, unsettled and uncertain, but hopeful, to Gwen\'s side. (\"Spectacles: Reprise,\" \"With Little Powers\").

Though it won some critical acclaim, extremely poor receipts meant an early end to Cobweb\'s run and a permanent split between Sondheim and Prince. To this day, Marvel refuses to license Spider-Man for stage or screen, though industry rumor suggests that the wild success of the Doctor Strange film franchise is compelling a reconsideration.

posted by Iridic at 11:47 AM

Metafilter, you are the awesome!


*I mean, nothing to compare to her Tempest, of course. Which was, in itself, nothing to compare with her Titus. But you know, it was pretty great.

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