Critics have savaged the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, but one Tony-nominated actor who’s seen the $65 million dollar budget production insists the show is pure art. “It was the most poetic, provocative and beautiful piece of theater I've seen in a long f---ing time,” says Rock of Ages star and American Idol alum Constantine Maroulis. “I realize theater is not a contact sport but they’re in a fight, making art, creating something that’s bigger than anything.”
Having several friends who work on the show, Maroulis was able to see Spider-Man in previews while on a short break from the national touring production of ROA. “I was home [in New York City] and ran to the theater,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I’d heard about the budget and all the talk in the news. Sure, actors are at risk sometimes, but we have an incredibly powerful union and they're doing everything they can to make the environment safe. It's unfortunate that people get hurt, but everyone wants to be there or they’d leave like Natalie Mendoza did.”
Maroulis notes that the producers “implemented several Act 2 changes this week” in dealing with the challenging acrobatics, but he adds, “I hope they don’t change it too much. If they do, I think a lot of people won’t get it.”
What’s so complex about a musical based around a superhero? The Julie Taymor production goes way deeper than a comic book, Maroulis insists. “It has this Waiting for Godot element to it, which I was just tripping on,” he says. “And the music -- if you're going in there expecting ‘With or Without You’ or ‘Where the Streets Have No Name,' that's not what you're going to get. This is some dark, weird, B-side-type cuts from U2 – very different. It was like high Greek theater and bugged-out Julie Taymor-sickness. It was so cool, man.”
As for the show’s future, says Maroulis: “They have a lot of people they need to please as far as investors and such, but I think they have a very strong vision and the buzz has been huge.” Indeed, a month before its February 7 opening, Spider-Man already laid claim to the No. 3 spot on the Broadway box office tally last week, grossing $1.88 million in the days following New Year's.
“People are going to attack it like they do everyday in the New York Post,” adds Maroulis. “But some shows are critic-proof. Look at Wicked. It got crap reviews and it's the biggest show in the world grossing billions of dollars as we speak, it's just bananas. We'll see about Spider-Man. To cover expenses and make their money back, they have to run at capacity for a very long time, so in that respect, it might not be a success. But I think it succeeds in the art, and that's the most important thing sometimes.”