February 8, 2011 / 5:59 PM / in 7 years

Critics merciless in swat at musical "Spider-Man"

<p>The marquee for the Broadway show "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark" is seen outside the Foxwoods Theatre in New York December 21, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It’s been delayed five times, suffered multiple cast injuries and been the butt of jokes. Now Broadway’s most expensive show ever, “Spider-Man,” has been reviewed by the critics, and universally panned.

Critics had respected tradition by holding back from reviewing the beleaguered $65 million musical, “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark,” because it was still in previews and not scheduled for a formal opening until March 15.

But with the true opening night uncertain and producers charging as much as $277 for a seat, critics decided to wait no longer and on Tuesday reviewed the show in an apparent contest to see who could denigrate it the most.

The unprecedented and spectacular aerial stunts that account for much of the costs failed to save an incomprehensible storyline, flat and cartoonish sets and songs that failed to please, critics said.

The New York Times concluded that the musical was “so grievously broken that it is beyond repair.”

“The sheer ineptitude of this show, inspired by the Spider-Man comic books, loses its shock value early. After 15 or 20 minutes, the central question you keep asking is likely to change from ‘How can $65 million look so cheap?’ to ‘How long before I‘m out of here?'” Times critic Ben Brantley said.

Under the headline “It soars & bores,” the New York Post said the flying was “impressive” but the musical was “erratic” with breathtaking scenes followed by laughable ones.

The Washington Post relegated the two-hour-and-50-minute show to the “dankest subbasement of the American musical theater.”

“If you’re going to spend $65 million and not end up with the best musical of all time, I suppose there’s a perverse distinction in being one of the worst,” Washington Post reviewer Peter Marks said.

The New York Daily News labeled the show “Dead on Arrival.”

“What I saw is a big production going in too many directions and in need of a lot of work to make it entertaining, satisfying and understandable,” wrote Joe Dziemianowicz of the Daily News.

Despite bad publicity surrounding the cost, delays and four injuries to its cast and crew, the show has still been performing well at the box office, even taking the top place in some weeks. Audience members who have seen the show have said they are fans of the franchise and don’t care about the buzz.

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