Bono's "Spider-Man" musical still weak, critics say

Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:34am EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Broadway's most expensive and ridiculed musical, "Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark," suffered another round of crushing reviews on Wednesday, a day after its long-delayed official opening drew celebrities such as former president Bill Clinton and actor Robert De Niro.

The $70 million comic-book adaptation, featuring music by U2's Bono and the Edge, was lambasted earlier this year while playing in a record-breaking 180 previews as its producers struggled to overhaul the production.

While the play would take years to turn a profit, tourists and other intrigued theatergoers could keep it on Broadway far longer than usual for productions with such withering notices.

Technical problems had delayed the opening six times since it began previews last year, and the show was suspended at one point after a rash of on-stage injuries and bad publicity ultimately led to the departure of its iconoclastic director Julie Taymor.

Many critics said that while the show had changed dramatically from its initial run under Taymor, it was still hobbled by a weak plot and bad music.

New York magazine said the musical had "deteriorated from mindblowingly misbegotten carnival-of-the-damned to merely embarrassing dud."

And the New York Times said, "this singing comic book is no longer the ungodly, indecipherable mess it was in February. It's just a bore."

Somewhat embarrassingly for the high-profile rockers in one of the world's biggest bands, the music was uniformly panned.   Continued...

<p>Patrons wait in line at the box office of the Foxwoods Theater, home to the Broadway play ''Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark'' in New York March 9, 2011. The $65 million "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>