June 16, 2011

Foxwoods Theatre

In a word:  Fantastic

In two words:  See it

In three words:  Don’t miss it

In four words:  You will love it

In five words:  It will blow your mind

There are slow moments in most plays, musical and otherwise.  The exception which comes to mind is In the Heights, a far less ambitious musical than Spiderman, Turn Off the Dark.  This play succeeds best when it is true to its comic book roots;  it crawls a bit while building the tale which, to be fair, it must.  But once it gets flying, spectacle takes over from story and one is swept up through the air and up the sides of buildings.  When Peter Parker first tests his new powers in his tiny room on stage, I thought ho-hum, kinda OK, but you gotta do more.

Well, when they got going, especially in Act II, they took over the whole atrial airspace!  All of it.  Spidey and the Green Goblin alit in the balcony to wow the legion of kids in attendance.  And I have to give this detail up:  As hero and villain grappled above our heads, I worried that they might get their cables entangled, but the tech is flawlessly constructed and performed.  The score by Bono and The Edge, ½ of U2, was good enough.  The sets were terrific and the staging was great.

If you like theatre or have any kid left in you and you don’t see this musical, don’t speak to me anymore.

There is a great scene where executives from Viper who would exploit Osborn’s magical wedding of man and arachnid goose-step across the stage.  Great choreography, great execution.  The video enhancements are bold and effective as well.

Staging, effects, choreography and sets are sure to be nominated for Tonys.  Score and book are sure not to be nominated, but best musical?  I can’t call that one. 

Most of the performances obliged only speaking the words, hitting the spots and having the guts to trust your life to cables, harnesses and apparatuses.

But there is one performance worthy of note.  That is Patrick Page, an actor with a long history of Shakespearean and Broadway acting, as Norman Osborn and Green Goblin.  He delivers his lines with panache unapproached by the other players.  Clearly enjoying this comic turn in great contrast to his other work, he plays the audience spontaneously and to our delight.  He was born with that voice, but it takes much more than genes to turn in acting like this.

The play is spectacular.  If you go for the book or the score you will miss the magic of this play.  Go to have a good time and to wonder at the effects, the good vs. evil – and the flying.  Oh, the flying.

Bob Lebensold

WVOX,  AM1460, New Rochelle, NY