Sunday, June 3rd, was all about gluttony. Three feasts were had, two for the taste buds and one for…well…the 12 year old in all (or some) of us. We all started out with a celebration at the famous Waldorf-Astoria Peacock room, where one can purchase eating and gorging rights to their infamous Sunday buffet. We were celebrating both my husband’s birthday and my mother-in-law’s birthday, plus the 50th anniversary of our friend’s wedding. So, it was a good meal to be had in a “throw caution to the wind” sort of way. However, I stuck to mostly fish and veggies, grabbing the things that I could never find in my local restaurant with any high standard, and broke down only towards the end with the chocolate fondue fountain (with pineapples and strawberries acting as the chocolate delivery system).
First plate…………………and second plate.
= utter gluttony. I tried to stick with the lighter-fare fish and veggies!
Chocolate fondue and chocolate with gold Waldorf writing.
We tottered out of the Peacock buffet room, and took a moment to visit Cole Porter’s piano on the way out, then found a taxi to take our heavier corporeal forms back into the Times Square area for our third musical of the weekend…
A group of full people!
The piano Cole Porter personally used to write many classic American Standards while staying at the Waldorf-Astoria.
WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS FOLLOW!
We did it. We finally did it, damn us all to hell…we saw “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark
,” the plagued Broadway-Meets-Stan-Lee’s-Creation that has had numerous re-writes, injuries, directors, edits, and conceptual pitfalls throughout its long Preview season. We were ultimately interested in seeing the show for curiosity’s sake, and because Spider-Man is one of my husband’s favorite comic book/superhero characters. Peter Parker is the most human of the classic superheroes. He’s still in school, has a photographer’s income, and deals with familial death and neighborhood angst straight out of the gate. He doesn’t have Bruce Wayne’s budget, is not a Goddess like Wonder Woman, and doesn’t have Kryptonian-spun costumes like Superman. And that’s ultimately what’s missing in “Turn off the Dark” – it’s a gluttony of spectacle, sets, lights, costumes, swinging/hanging effects and fights, video projections, webbing, Greek myths, and a rock score that will blast your ears out. And it tries to find the humanity in all of it, but fails on that account.
The front-of-curtain Comic Book “Cover”
It’s appropriate that “Turn off the Dark” is situated in a theater on 42nd Street, right across from Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Dave & Busters, and countless other tourist-friendly venues. This is a hybrid of too many conflicting creative minds to consider it a traditional “Broadway musical.” It’s more of a Theme Park Stunt Show on steroids, with a huge-name score by Bono & The Edge that is light on character development and laughable in some instances. The musical’s costumes and acting style choices don’t tell us if the show takes place in the 1940’s, the 1980’s, or 2012. The costumes are impressive, the sets and their comic-book sensibilities are mind-blowing, and the stunts are beautifully executed. Those who have always wanted to feel as if they’re seeing a superhero appear above their heads can sit in the Orchestra and have a blast – it’ll tickle the 12 year old kid in you, as they recreate Spider-Man’s iconic web-swinging techniques, poses, landings, fighting and hanging skills seen on Spider-Man comic book covers. But there are some costumes that confuse rather than astound, especially those of the “Sinister Six,” who are created to unleash havoc in New York City and who appear to be created from a fever dream – seriously, their character design is something out of the completely silly Japanese “Spider-Man” TV show (see YouTube video) from 30 years ago, or a badly done Power Rangers villain factory.
Pete got webbed, and his 12 year old boy-self was happy.
I almost laughed when they were revealed, but my jaw was too far towards the floor to do so. That said, Patrick Page and his insane Green Goblin are over the top, and he has a gorgeous bass voice that excels in expressive singing, some honestly tender moments, and maniacal yelling-laughing-being-evil. I wanted to dump the Sinister Six and have the Green Goblin show for Act II. I did appreciate the use of old-fashioned puppetry and stage illusions to find ways around pesky physics getting in the way of telling a superhero movie. The moments when the comic book cutout sets melded with the “fun” of defying gravity worked the best. However, sometimes this backfired (a huge blowup doll and joke about it during the wrestling scene!??! Come ON!) but I liked the simplicity and metaphysical world the pop-up sets created. I just wished they were consistent throughout and weren’t slow to change from scene to scene in some spots. I’m not the first to blog my opinion of this show, and I understand that it’s making a bundle for Broadway actors/dancers/stunt guys and is certainly getting people into the Times Square area to spend their money. You can take the kids to it and many of those kids will grow up with the image of Spider-Man himself swinging above their heads for years to come. We can shake our fists at the creative Gods for not handing us a perfect stunt show with fully fleshed out characters, amazing music and lyrics, and a human story mixed in with the spectacle. But it won’t matter…Spidey is here to stay.
After “Spider-Man,” we traveled to the Novotel Hotel and the in-house cafe/restaurant Cafe Nicole. There, we attempted to eat more – I had a skirt steak and salad with an appetizer of cold-served artichoke and a glass of merlot. The food is basic and good, a lot healthier than other restaurants we were at that week, and I love the view from the great glass windows overlooking Times Square from the 7th floor. I couldn’t finish my steak, though, and had it cut up into a salad for dinner the next day. We got home from the day’s adventures tired and overstimulated, but happier for the adventures we had.
The view of Times Square
Artichoke heart and wine…quite a nice combo!
Coming up: Venus, “String,” Pete’s Birthday and FEAR!!!!