The Chowderheads Take Manhattan
Previously in The Craptacular Spider-Man: Julie Taymor raped Carmen’s soul by minimizing our hero’s call to adventure by having his beloved Uncle Ben get hit by a car. Somewhere in there, the origins of Spider-Man and his arch nemesis, Green Goblin, were botched too.
The Daily Bugle tells the audience that Green Goblin and Spidey are having a confrontation at a piano store. A pretty neat fight scene ensues where the Goblin and Spidey fly over the audience hanging on each other. Admittedly it was cool, but brief. Back on stage now, they trade some “punches,” that is to say that they make hitting motions in the general direction of the other and the other responds in mock pain/falling over. I guess this is “art.” They were about 6 feet apart during this exchange. Riveting. Spidey tries to tell Goblin that “With great power comes….” and Goblin responds, “Great Power!”
As this bit of wisdom was never actually passed on to Pete in a meaningful way, it is meaningless when delivered and the Goblin version sounds reasonable, at least it did to me as I watched their mime bitch fight. Green Goblin then sits at a green piano and proceeds to sing to us about how “I’ll Take Manhattan” in a very Michael Feinstein meets Harry Connick Jr. kind of way. Ok conceptually this is awful, visually laughable, but Page semi-pulled it off because he is genuinely funny, can sing quite well and when there was yet another show stoppage, he stayed in character and ad-libbed for several minutes until all was well. The scene ends with the piano along with MJ being thrown off of the Empire State Building and Spidey saving the day by attaching Goblin to the piano with webbing…..at least that is what the voice over and giant Spidey proscenium cut out tells us happened. Goblin is dead….ish.
Aesthetic aside: All perspective shots of Spidey falling or jumping down sides of buildings are done with the clever use of Mego scale dolls. Not joking. Little dolls being pulled on string ($65 million). In some cases small board cut outs were used. I no longer laugh when I think of Toyfare’s Twisted Mego Theater parody of SMTOTD…compared to this it was Citizen Kane.
FINALLY…. ACT I ends. I’ll spare the commentary on the reactions of the crowd. ACT II has to be better right? Bend over boy…I think you dropped some soap there…..
So, I noticed that the program references the Sinister Six and Carnage, who have as of yet not appeared. Admittedly, due both to the schlocky costuming and effects coupled with the fact that we are already halfway through, I am getting that kind of dread that is generally reserved for Joel Schumacher alone. ACT II opens with our Twilight Greek Chorus again, discussing who the ultimate Spidey villain is. They decide to compare and contrast stats to see who stacks up, but instead of using a conceptual template like gaming or an RPG to do so, you know, something that would appeal to comic fans , they decide to do the following. Sit down. I mean it. Three words…. Villain….Beauty….Pageant.
Yes that’s right, here they all come, down the runway. No origins, no explanations, just pure villain…beauty?
Carnage looks like he came free with 2 box tops and $3 for shipping, Kraven looks like Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello fame (and I guess he supports Gryffindor because he borrowed Luna’s roaring lion to use as his chest plate), the Lizard explodes from Dr. Connors’s chest a la Alien in a very “front lawn inflatable Santa” kind of way, Electro needs to talk to Lady Gaga, because her costuming has more sparks, Swarm (Nazi Bees!) pop n’ locked across the stage and Swiss Miss (who is she, you might ask…they made her up! They even brag about it!)…well Swiss Miss looks like a target for the “professors” on RuPaul’s Drag U. They would pull her aside and say, “Honey, ya know the whole ‘can opener’ thing just makes you look too hippy.”
It was agony. I felt bad for all of the people in costume trying their damndest to sell it. My heart bled for them.
We return to Arachne who sings the title song. This musical is NOT about Spider-Man. Remember this. That much should be clear by now. Oh, by the way, the title makes very little sense. I think they want it to seem deep, like the “dark” is the dark of your soul or maybe the “dark” of the world, or the “dark” of turning your back on what and who you are, or the “dark” of my ass. Whatever. It’s dark. It needs to be turned off and she is singing about it. She is so lonely and sad, and clearly wants Peter. Weird. Oh, I almost forgot…there is an aerial erotic/sensual scene between Arachne and Peter where she descends on him in his sleep…hovering above him in bed (“I find her interesting because she’s a spider and she sleeps above her covers….four feet above her covers”). She sings to him in a longing kind of way and I kicked myself for even thinking of Will Ferrell’s Chazz Michael Michaels “Cirque do so lame” comment, but it was so true. Truth be told Arachne’s spider costume is the best in the show and her fluidity on the wires trumped everyone else’s. I am sure the wire work was very very hard….but really? Did we need Peter’s first wet dream as a musical scene. Puh-leeze.
But wait this is supposed to be about Spider-Man after all. Peter throws away the costume. He wants to be with MJ. I have not mentioned the peppering of MJ related plot because it is all the same old stuff. “You missed my play.”“Where were you?” Et cetera. They go dancing at a club. The club is playing U2’s Vertigo. Thanks guys. I had almost put it out of my head that you were involved. I tried not to think of it, seeing as the show’s music is nothing to speak of, but then you had to go and literally put yourself in it. Hubris, again.
Well there is a black out (which by this point I thought was unintentional and was waiting for the stage director’s voice to tell me it was going to be a minute, but this failure was scheduled – this one was a plot device!) The screens go green and, well Goblin isn’t dead. Big shock. He threatens that the Sinister SEVEN (yup, seven) are going to run amuck in the city. It is important to interject here that during the black out one of The Daily Bugle’s stories is about a massive robbery of shoe stores. You need to know this. No really you need to know this. Anyway, there are many pointless minutes of Peter and MJ eating canned pears and soup (no electricity…where is Electro is my question!) culminating in his proposal of marriage.
I know. Stick with me. I promise I am trying to make this succinct.
To Be Concluded…
You heard it right True Believers! Come back tomorrow for the thrilling finale of The Craptacular Spider-Man!