The latest news from the ever-entertaining saga that is Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is that the show's four narrators, the Geek Chorus (as in Greek Chorus for the obtuse among us), have been removed from the musical. That the four Geeks, three teenage boys and an obviously defiant girl, are supposedly based upon the four originators of the Spidey Musical: Bono, the Edge, original choreographer Dan Ezralow, and director Julie Taymor, is a piece of news even more steeped in irony than is usual with this off-stage soap opera. Director Julie Taymor (The Lion King) is gone. Her onstage character is gone too. What will happen to the offstage geeks now?
As has been widely reported, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will soon take a much-needed hiatus before it attempts to re-open on June 14. After five injuries and numerous delays, Spider-Man is changing directors and retooling its book. If script doctors Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Glen Berger (who had co-written Spidey with Julie Taymor) are taking suggestions, I have a few after catching last week's preview.
Keep the aerials. This might seem a strange request seeing as how the night I attended, the understudy America Olivo was filling in for actress T. V. Carpio who plays Arachne, the villainess, because Ms. Carpio had a whiplash injury. Bring on more aerial acrobats. Again I say this even in light of the near accident I witnessed from three seats away. Spidey came in, front row mezzanine, and overshot his landing. It was truly terrifying. My heart pounded well through intermission, and it wasn't from the thrill of an absorbing musical. There's been some speculation that the well-attended previews are due to a bloodthirsty audience, but I stand firm in the belief that no one wishes Spidey or his aerialists ill. The near miss and the whiplash convince me that acrobatics need to be in the hands of professionals and professionals only.
It is a good sign that the production team is bringing in circus and theatre director Philip William McKinley to revamp the show. With more aerialists and fewer mainstream actors/singers involved, perhaps there will be fewer accidents. Let's let Reeve Carney (Spider-man) off the hook literally from his final mask-free soar above the crowd. Mr. Carney has a marvelous voice and presence; the young star does more than credit to the lackluster U2 score, but he looked positively queasy during his final plunge, and that doesn't do anything for the suspension of disbelief.