Audiences are lucky.
Luckier than ever-especially when a musical that admittedly had it's challenges early on, decided to turn a critical eye towards itself, take an extended look in the mirror and correct what many critics thought might be uncorrectable after a precarious beginning.
Lucky for all of us, the brains behind "Turn Off The Dark" didn't permanently fold their tents and go home. Instead, the cast, crew, writers and producers took a temporary 3 week hiatus to fine tune what has now evolved into arguably the most exciting musical since (dare I say it?) Zigfield's Follies!
Julie Taymor's early influence not withstanding, Philip Wm. McKinley's version has taken the show to new "heights" (yes, pun intended) and never looked back.
Reeve Carney's performance is flawless with his signature vocal firmly stamped on everyone's musical subconscience, particularly after the cd's continued successful run, which redefined it's popularity and IT sales after it's debut on venues such as American Idol, (with Bono & Carney) I-Tunes and more. Bono and The Edge co-wrote the music & lyrics.
Carney does not disappoint and his energy and enthusiasm for the part is evident, leaving the audience with the sense that it's opening night all over again. Carney doesn't leave a stone unturned, even venturing into the (unfriendly skies) of an embattled New York city during his war vs The Green Goblin, played with incredible versatility by none other than Patrick Page, who could not have been cast better.
Shortly after intermission, the audience is treated to a tongue in cheek piano bar serenade by Page, whose dulcet pipes are deceptively hypnotic, that is, until Peter/Spiderman realizes that NYC is not about to allow Goblin and his crew of monster-like misfits to demonize and destroy America's pride and joy, New York.
Of course, there's just the right amount of tension for Peter Parker as he attempts to juggle his romance with Mary Jane with family (Aunt May), and work without giving away his identity. Rebecca Faulkenberry does a masterful job both visually and vocally in place of Jennifer Damiano who recorded the original vocals for the popular cd. Rebecca's MJ never misses a beat judging by the chemistry between Carney as Peter and her incarnation in the role.
Michael Mulheren is devilishly delightful as the on-again off-again J. Jonah Jamison as the wacky Editor audiences love to hate for his perpetual mistreatment of Peter and his knack for triangulating everyone in his path into his demented, egomaniacal agenda. *Note that both Mulheren as J. Jonah and Page as Green Goblin both toss their authoritative voices around like Goblin's explosives-again, if this was an old radio broadcast back in the day, Page & Mulheren's voices are so well cast that they'd make the grade even without the aforementioned visuals. The fact that the visuals are so colorfully magical is a bonus.
The audience is treated to a delicious sensory smorgasbord for the eyes, ears and even touch-when Spidey is flinging his webbing throughout the audience while web slinging through the rafters-a nice touch and a subtle nod towards audience participation.
Beautifully orchestrated with snappy dialogue, great musical performances by both the leads and supporting characters, versatile sets that provide the feel of a surreal Salvadore Dali like version of NYC's bulidings coming to life, audiences feel the grace and the movement McKinley is shooting for-mission accomplished. There's even a separate screen where audiences are treated to Conductor Kimberly Grigsby's direction to her musicians in the orchestra pit.
Needless to say, the show is altogether fun, breathtaking, humorous, campy and cool, all at the same time. A rollicking great time and highly recommended for the entire family, a true can't miss. McKinley and company got it right.