This Week on Stage: 'Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark' gets help from a Broadway vet and Mandy Patinkin is upstaged by an Anne Frank marionette
Image Credit: Joan MarcusWill a week ever pass without Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark news? Apparently not: Amid rumors that the musical’s official opening might be postponed a sixth time (the show’s reps assured EW on Tuesday that they’re still aiming for the planned March 15 premiere), producers hired musical supervisor Paul Bogaev (Aida) to help Julie Taymor, Bono, and Co. rejigger the play. Turning around the problematic production in under a month could take superhuman effort — but Bogaev has major cred when it comes to wrangling high-concept spectacles (like the roller skating-heavy Starlight Express) and rock musicians-cum-composers (like Aida’s Elton John).
In other news, Rent will return to New York on Aug. 11 at New World Stages. Tony-winner James Earl Jones, who’s currently playing Hoke in Driving Miss Daisy, signed on to portray a dying former president in the Broadway revival of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, which is scheduled for next year. The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s drama about the early days of the AIDS epidemic in New York, scored a Broadway debut date (April 27, one day before the deadline to qualify for the Tonys) and a few cast members (Joe Mantello, John Benjamin Hickey, and Ellen Barkin). South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s The Book of Mormon began previews. And Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein, in which actors Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch alternate the roles of Frankenstein and the creature, debuted at London’s National Theatre to raves (check out EW’s Mandi Bierly’s take on the trailer). As for this side of the pond, our reviewers saw three new productions. Enjoy the highlights:
Vieux Carré: The Wooster Group’s “gripping, ever-so-melodramatic” presentation of Tennessee Williams’ most autobiographical work earned a B+ from EW’s Melissa Bernardo for director Elizabeth LeCompte’s “slice-and-dice” multi-media approach, which uses several TV screens on the stage.
In Mother Words: The anthology-style play about child-rearing — penned by 14 different writers and brought to life by a “solid and understated” cast led by the “trembling good” Jane Kaczmarek — won over EW’s Tanner Stransky when it depicted non-traditional families and experiences. He graded it a B-.
Compulsion: Mandy Patinkin’s troubled writer in this fact-based tale is both humanized and upstaged by his obsession, Anne Frank, who’s portrayed by a marionette. “He’s perhaps one of the most unlikable heroes ever seen on a New York stage,” writes Bernardo, who gave the play a B, “but Anne — or, rather, her delicate puppet representation — actually softens him.”
Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark