From start to finish, The New York Times chief theatre critic Ben Brantley, has slammed the $65 million musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, saying:
Spider-Man is not only the most expensive musical ever to hit Broadway, it may also rank among the worst.
Frustrated with what was beginning to look like an “unending work in progress” after no less than five much-publicised delays (technically still in previews until March 15), Brantley decided to do what few professional theatre critics actually do … review a show before opening night … and for this, The New York Times may well be criticised.
But Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is a unique beast and one that is definitely testing the patience of theatre critics and audiences, alike. The musical has had 60 Minutes airtime, many unofficial reviews by bloggers and lots of bad press in the media, already. All this for a show that hasn’t even opened yet. One cast member has ended up in hospital, another has left the show during previews and the ending has been significantly reworked. But that’s okay, the show is still in previews (albeit the longest preview run in Broadway history!). However, Brantley says
Spider-Man is so grievously broken in every respect that is it beyond repair.
This is not coming from The Milwaukee Chronicle … this is The New York Times, the only newspaper in the world capable of closing a theatre show early after publishing a bad press review.
Although Spider-Man is back on top of the highest grossing Broadway shows (raking in nearly $1.3 million in the week ending 6 February), if you haven’t caught on already, one would suggest the show may be in deep trouble. Reportedly costing in the vicinity of $1 million a week in operating costs, Spider-Man will need to run at full capacity for a long time just to be in the black … and for that to happen, a show needs good press reviews.
Wicked’s crown as the biggest show on earth may not be lost for long …
Read the full New York Times Spider-Man review.
Update: it appears not one, but 12 of the nation’s major newspapers decided to publish Spider-Man reviews on Tuesday along with The New York Times, setting off a storm of fury among the show’s creative personnel while the musical remains in (extended) previews. Why is this so important? Because it goes against a long-standing theatre tradition not to publish reviews during previews and now this adds yet another reason why Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark will be remembered in Broadway history in years to come. Read The New York Times take on this incident.