Tuesday 23 January 2018

U2 pair got stuck in a musical and they can't get out of it

Ali Hewson, Bono of U2, Eve Hewson and Jordan Hewson attend 'Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark' Broadway opening night at Foxwoods Theatre on June 14, 2011 in New York City
Ali Hewson, Bono of U2, Eve Hewson and Jordan Hewson attend 'Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark' Broadway opening night at Foxwoods Theatre on June 14, 2011 in New York City
Achtung Julie: U2's Bono kisses director Julie Taymor during the curtain call for the opening of 'Spider-Man'
The Edge takes to the stage after the show
At the show it was a who's-who of Bono's celebrity friends, including legendary Irish film actor Liam Neeson
Former US president Bill Clinton
Actor Matt Damon and his wife Luciana Barroso
Film director Spike Lee with his children, Jackson and Satchel

Vincent Murphy in New York

IT seems the 'Spider-man' musical is stuck in a moment and it can't get out of it.

Despite changing the director, some of the music, many of the scenes and much of the storyline ahead of its much-anticipated official Broadway opening on Tuesday night, Bono and The Edge again woke up to uncompromising reviews yesterday morning.

The pair, who wrote the music and lyrics for 'Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark', now know that a glittering array of celebrities didn't dazzle the newspaper theatre critics who were left decidedly unimpressed by the fare on stage.

Former US president Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea had sat alongside Bono at the Foxwoods Theatre off Times Square for the show's official premiere.

Behind them sat The Edge with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

They were joined in the audience by a who's-who of Bono's celebrity friends, including rocker Lou Reed, rapper Jay-Z, actors Robert De Niro, Matt Damon, Liam Neeson and Steve Martin, supermodels Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen, tennis legend John McEnroe, TV stars Barbara Walters and Jimmy Fallon, and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"What an amazing and historic night on Broadway. New York has never seen anything like 'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark'," Mr Clinton said afterwards.

"And I am very proud of them for not giving up, it was fabulous," he added.


However, he appears to have been in a minority.

Most of the critics, who were reviewing the reworked version of the show for the first time since director Julie Taymor was replaced in March, didn't agree.

While the reviews have not been as savage as those of the original version in February, they were still damning in whatever faint praise they gave.

Most felt that while the revisions had improved the show, it was now basically a very expensive piece of children's entertainment.

America's most influential theatre critic, Ben Brantley, of the 'New York Times' said the show had gone from "jaw-dropping badness to mere mediocrity".

"This singing comic book is no longer the ungodly, indecipherable mess it was in February. It's just a bore," he wrote, adding that he would only recommend it if he knew a "less-than-precocious child of 10 or so, and had several hundred dollars to throw away".

Peter Mark, writing in the 'Washington Post', said the show was "a definite upgrade" but "still situated a wide canyon's distance from good".

Entertainment Weekly's Thom Geier gave it a C+ rating, saying, "It's an unsatisfying meal, like one of mom's casseroles made of leftovers she couldn't bear to toss away."

The kindest words came from Elysa Gardner writing in 'USA Today', who said producers had clearly heeded critics and fans, and the new version was "more of an overt crowd-pleaser".

It certainly pleased the invited guests at Tuesday night's opening, where the audience leapt to their feet to give the cast and crew a standing ovation at curtain call.

Producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J Harris came out on stage, followed by Bono and The Edge.

The new director, Phillip William McKinley then introduced the woman he replaced, Julie Taymor.

There was loud applause from the audience and cheers from the cast and crew as Taymor walked on the stage to embrace Bono and The Edge, and the other producers who ousted her just two months ago.

Bono took the microphone and paid tribute to her creativity, adding "By the way, you're looking hot, Julie."

Taymor was gracious despite an ongoing dispute with producers over the payment of royalties, and thanked the cast and crew that she had spent years working with on the show.

Bono, who recently admitted that he would never have become involved in the musical if he knew how much time it would take to get it up and running, said he was proud of the work.

"It's quite a moment for us to finally be able to stand behind this, stand proudly behind it. It is a wonderful, wild ride of a night out," he said.

"We knew that that show had the makings of something great," added The Edge, "so we felt that if we just pushed very hard and persuaded our producers to go again, we could get there. We feel we have."

Irish Independent

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