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Does Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark Live Up to the Hype

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is one of the most hyped Broadway productions in history! It’s all the more famous, or shall we say infamous, given the number of controversies that have taken place during its first year of production. (It was also the butt of many jokes at the Tony Awards) What is Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and why is it the center of so much controversy?

This production of Spider-Man is actually very inventive, and a far cry from the blockbuster movies starring Tobey Maguire that you may remember. The production is a rock musical in the spirit of The Phantom of the Opera, though it is based on the comic by Stan Lee and Steve Ditki. The play does stick to familiar territory, namely Spider-Man’s romance with Mary Jane, his origin and his battles with nemesis Green Goblin. While this is all fairly predictable, the biggest surprise comes from the music itself. The music is divinely inspired, as it features music and lyrics by U2‘s Bono and The Edge.

The Edge wasn’t sure how to describe the show, though he managed to explain, “[It has] elements of rock and roll…elements of circus…elements of opera.” Bono meanwhile, called the production “pop-up, pop-art opera.” Of course, to many attendees (including Broadway critics) the music is in the background and the real achievement is in the visuals. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is the most expensive production in the history of Broadway thanks to its stunts and action-packed visual effects. There are many stunts in the production including actors swinging from webs and simulating fight scenes in the air.

The controversy you have been hearing about comes from reports of actors being injured during rehearsals and previews, and the original director Julie Taymor leaving the production. Yes, this is an ambitious production to say the least and with great power comes great responsibility…or so we once heard. However, the production’s flamboyance and occasional fumbles are what make the production an object of fascination in mainstream American culture.

Patrick Healy of The New York Times states that the show is “a national object of pop culture fascination” due to its media coverage, its frequent mentions by late night comedians, and its broad audience of adults and children. The songs of the production have also seen mainstream coverage on Good Morning America, American Idol, and The Tony Awards. See what the hype is about get Spider-Man tickets near to you!

Wicked is Wickedly Funny

Wicked will probably always be one of my favorite musicals. I loved the cast, the music, the score, and the costumes. The play is loosely based on “The Wizard of Oz” but it is actually more of an unlikely prequel to the Frank Baum book. It focuses on the relationship between two very different young ladies. One is pretty, popular, and selfish. This leads to one of the most best known songs of the production, Glinda does an amazing job singing, “Popular.” The other girl, Elphaba, is smart, talented, mean to others, and a loner. It is a story that weaves the well-known themes of bigotry, improbable friendships, and the power to transform people.

Both Glinda and Elphaba are wonderful singers and the songs are absolutely memorable. The story begins with Glinda sitting prettily in a swing and asking, “It’s good to see me, isn’t it?” This brings the first of an evening of chuckles from the audience. She then rather seriously announces that the Wicked Witch of the East is dead. Thus begins a flashback chronicling the unlikely friendship between Glinda, who is supposed to be the good witch, and the green-skinned, Elphaba, who was basically the good girl until shattered idealism transformed her into the wicked witch.

Glinda and Elphaba star as an unlikely pair of boarding-school roommates who somehow form a strong bond as Glinda finally transforms into the really good witch she is meant to be. The most memorable songs for me include the well-known “Popular” and “Defying Gravity” but my favorite song came at the end when the girls join together to sing a moving version of “For Good.” Because they knew each other, they have been changed for good. Wicked The Musical is spell binding from opening act to the closing curtain.

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