Stop the presses! Spider-man is actually watchable, and understandable.
It’s been almost two years since I saw the first incarnation of the now-infamous musical. My review (if you don’t remember it, click here!) gave the few props where they were due, but I also told everyone what needed to be cut and changed. I’m happy to say that they cleaned up a lot of the garbage when they re-wrote the book.
The unnecessary and intrusive Geek Chorus? That got cut (sorry, Gideon Glick – I think you’re adorable but your role was unnecessary and annoying). The first twenty minutes of the first act taking place in a museum or laboratory and being about Arachnae? Axed. Arachnae’s character is so small and pointless now that it almost makes it not worth keeping (oh, yeah, because they shouldn’t have written it in the first place!). The most impressive part of the show (the fight between the Green Goblin and Spider-man) is now at the end of the second act, not the first – where it should’ve been all along. The Green Goblin doesn’t die at the end of the first act and then magically re-appear in act two. The Sinister 6 actually make sense now (former scientists of the Green Goblins who he has transformed against their will to get back at them for leaving his company).
And there’s no awkward electric guitarist standing stage left anymore – for no reason whatsoever.
I actually enjoyed some of the music too. Bullying By Numbers is catchy, kind of, but it still makes no sense. If The World Should End is still one of the best, and it comes sooner in the show now too – not at the end of the second act.
I feel like Peter and MJ’s relationship is much better written than it was – there are more layers to it now.
The technical aspects of the show – the flying, and video projections used – are awesome. I was watching from the dress circle and almost cringed when the Green Goblins face was lighting up the stage in it’s entirety.
Robert Cuccioli was fantastic as the Green Goblin (oddly enough I didn’t look in my Playbill beforehand so I had no idea who was playing the Goblin and mid-way through I said to myself, you know, Robert Cuccioli would be great in this role!). Patrick Page was such an asset to the show, but Cuccioli isn’t letting anyone down.
I never really liked the raspiness of Reeve Carney’s voice, but I think he’s great in the role – transforming easily from nerd into superhero. Rebecca Faulkenberry played MJ, and she was good, she has a pretty voice (though she could stand to work on her belt). She got remarkably better in the second act. Maybe I’d just wished I was seeing Jennifer Damiano, but Faulkenberry just left something to be desired.
So, Spider-man is still not what a theatrical revelation by any means, but considering what it once was? It’s a thing of Shakespearian beauty now. I was able to follow what was going on, things made sense, and I was entertained by the spectacle.