This column is part of Edge's blog by Regina O'Numb. The words and pics are by Debbie Kreuser.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Update My 25, 2011

FOR BONO: Vision Over Visibility

I first learned about Bono & Edge's involvement with a musical version of “Spider-Man” several years ago. At first, I wasn't sure about this idea until I heard them speak so passionately about this project. It was then that other “side projects” that Bono & Edge had been involved with in the past came to mind (like “Peter and the Wolf” or MusicRising) that I began to warm up to this idea. As a U2 follower of over thirty years, I know that often U2 does its BEST work as a group when members of the band have had the chance to creatively express themselves OUTSIDE the group – so why wouldn't this be a good idea? Besides, I thought that it would be interesting to see just what the two of them would come up with for a “Spider-Man” musical!

So when tickets went on sale last September, I immediately bought a ticket for “closing day” - 17 April. Perhaps because I only needed one ticket, I was able to score the ticket of a lifetime for this production – Balcony Row A, Seat 113. I was virtually in the middle of the first row of the balcony section and could see everything in the production, from the stage to the flying, unencumbered by any obstacle. It was PERFECT!

I found a great price on a plane ticket & a decent place to stay for a few days near Central Park West and began my preparation for my date with Spiderman. I arrived in NYC on a very rainy Saturday afternoon. The following day (the day of my Spider-Man matinee), I rose early - full of excitement – and started my MAGNIFICENT day by walking to Strawberry Fields in Central Park to visit the “IMAGINE” mosaic in honor of John Lennon.

Taking the subway to Times Square, I spent several hours walking around the area & enjoying the pace of NYC. Soon enough, it was time to get in line and keep that date with Spiderman!

Once inside and in my seat, I eagerly awaited the start of the production. Seated next to me was a young boy & his grandmother who had seen a lot of Broadway shows (including “The Lion King” also by Julie Taymor) but he REALLY loved this production. Maybe it was the flying, maybe it was the music & the choreography but something about “Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark” had captured this little boy's heart....and I wanted to find out if it would capture mine.

As the curtain raised & the lights dimmed, I began beaming like a child. THIS WAS IT – I was finally going to see Bono & Edge's special project that they had been so excited about for so long!

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the upbeat nature of the music (pure rock n roll) and the EXCELLENT choreography which accompanied it. You could see the long hours of practice that went into the making of this show – it certainly deserved more credit than it had gotten from the NYC theater critics.

By the third musical number “Bullying by Numbers”, I was hooked. I could barely stay in my seat – I wanted so much to get up & dance! I had to remember that this was not a U2 concert but a Broadway show (although Edge was purportedly sitting in the “U2 section” directly in my view, albeit in a bit of a disguise).

The set designs were bright in color and very modern. The set changes often came quickly (sometimes too quickly). In all, the first half of the show progressed quite well, especially a BEAUTIFUL rendition of “Rise Above” which almost brought tears to my eyes, and I really couldn't understand what the negative reviews of “Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark” were all about.

The second act proceeded a bit more slowly than the first act & seemed to get a bit lost in its story-telling. Still. It was “saved” by such GREAT performances during the songs “Walk Away”, “If the World Should End” and my favorite “The Boy Falls From the Sky”.

The flying scenes in “Spider-Man” were AMAZING and worth every penny of the admission price to see. The flying fight scene between Spiderman and the Green Goblin was a combination of Cirque du Soleil & Marvel Comics – simply BREATH-TAKING. I was beginning to understand what kept the young boy sitting next to me coming back to see this production.

The show ended with a rousing standing ovation for the cast and crew of “Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark” and an invitation from onstage for all of us to come back and see “Spider-Man 2.0”. From the audience's enthusiastic response, I'm sure that all of us will do just that at some point in the future.

About a hundred people gathered outside the Foxwoods Theater after the show was over to watch the performers come out. It was interesting to watch the NYC media all compete with each other to interview the cast members as they came out of the building. Weren't these some of the same reporters & news media outlets who had dissed this production so much? Why would they be interested in talking to them now?

I was quite impressed with the calm & very professional manner in which the “star” of this production, Reeve Carney (aka Spiderman), interacted with the press & with the screaming young female fans waiting for him to sign their Spiderman programs. ( Even I had a “moment” with Reeve but that will stay private.)

In all, I would agree with the critics that some revision of the production was necessary. The story line needed improvement, the segueway between musical numbers made more smooth, the musical input of Bono & Edge made more emphatic. These revisions amd more have since been made to this production, now comically named “Spider-Man 2.0” by Bono, and from the reviews of it so far, it is a much improved show, worthy of any Broadway opening. (It will finally open on Broadway next month.) I WISH IT WELL....

This concludes my brief review of “Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark”. In my next post, I'll begin to explore some of the reasons WHY I think that this production, including Bono himself, have received such a negative response from the critics and U2 fans themselves.

Until then, WELCOME BACK TO THE USA, U2! We've waited two years to see you so - MAKE IT GOOD. (I know that you will)

ONLY LOVE, debbie:)

by Deborah Kreuser ♫

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