Saturday, July 16, 2011

Turn off the Dark

I'd never been to Broadway before last week.  I'd never been to New York before last week.  Two years ago, October 2009, U2 played a concert in my hometown of Charlottesville.  I wanted to take my son to a concert, so I bought tickets for the Philadelphia concert the next summer.  Little did I know that Bono would injure himself and the show would be postponed for another year.  I held on to the tickets and we made plans to go last week.  My wife wanted to make it a family trip, so we decided to spend a day in New York before heading to Philadelphia.

Ever since she travelled to New York a few years ago to see the Lion King on Broadway, she's been wanting to see another show.  Our youngest son is so into Spider Man we figured that would be about the only option that he would manage to sit through.  Considering that Bono and the Edge composed the music I figured that it would be only fitting to see the show the day before the U2 concert.  I found discounted tickets on-line two days before the show about 3/4 of the way back in the Orchestra section (right side, row U).

The show was phenomenal.  The live action/high flying choreography was part graceful, part daredevil.  The characters of Spiderman and the Green Goblin flew both across the stage and overhead, as if the audience was a part of the show.  The set managed to evoke a comic book feel without becoming campy.  The set created quite a sense of depth and subtley became almost as much a part of the story as the characters.  The cast was excellent, but Patrick Page in the role of the Green Goblin was the most memorable.  His villianous voice perfectly matched the dialogue and music.  The character added just enough comic relief to add a laugh or two without turning the show into a comedy.

The story was not the strongest.  The music added emotion and weight  The deeper Spiderman themes of Choice and Responsibility were present, but certainly not developed.  However, it was a cohesive story, coming to a satisfying ending.

Any U2 fan will recognize the fingerprints of Bono and the Edge all over the musical score, from the instrumentation that seems to borrow several riffs from U2 songs to the vocals that seem perfectly created for the voice of Bono.  Several scenes include clips from U2 songs as incidental music: New Year's Day from a car stereo, Vertigo in a dance club, Beautiful Day on the telephone while on hold.  The soundtrack, like the show, finds a great balance of strong emotional pieces balanced with several more light-hearted songs.

That was the highlight of my first visit to New York.  Until I can convince my four-year old son that he can't cling to a wall, the memory of Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark will remain.  As far as memories go, this is one that I'm not in a hurry to lose.  The concert on Thursday was pretty good too.  More on that one later.