When I was a kid, mu aunt took me to see Peter Pan on Broadway. I was little enough that I don't have any memory of the event but my aunt tells me that both of us were awe-struck. The piece de resistance, she likes to recount, is when Sandy Dun, as Peter, flew across the theater.
"Over our heads!" she still marvels.
I am sure it was -- and would still be -- incredible. Though, were Peter to fly again on Broadway, he'd have to do a bit more than take a pass over overhead to earn oohs and ahhs. The bar for aerial spectaculars on Broadway has been raised, for better or worse, thanks to The Amazing Spiderman.
NY Metro Parents sent Primo, Seconda and I to see Spiderman on Sunday and report back about our experience. In a nutshell: if you are looking for high-flying, show-stopping tricks, you will not be disappointed. The show bills itself as "New York's Most Thrilling Show" and I could not disagree, in terms of spectacle. Put that 1979 Peter Pan on steroids, and you'll end up with Spiderman. The webbed wonder takes countless swings directly overhead -- covering the whole audience in wide circles to include everyone in the delight. He hands on the balcony once, twice, half a dozen times. He shoots webs right onto the heads of kids staring up in amazement. In the final climactic battle with the green goblin, Spiderman stands right on top of the Goblin's shoulders, and they battle in MID-AIR. This production is not skimping on spectacle. You came to see the guy fly and he flies, all right. And it is pretty amazing. I confess that every time, the kids and I gasped in delight.
Seconda, who is 6 and not especially a fan of superhero stories, thoroughly enjoyed the plot and the music, especially the comedy sprinkled in throughout (at one point, the Green Goblin tries to leave a message for JJ Jameson and gets stuck in automated voicemail purgatory and that really cracked her up). Primo, who's almost 9, and a self-avowed aficionado of superhero comics as well as the world's snootiest kid critic of musical scores (remember this is a kid that knows every single note of The Phantom of the Opera) was more reserved in his enthusiasm. He thought the music could use some work (sorry, U2), and I'd have to agree: there were a few lovely ballads between MJ and Peter, but in general, it wasn't the kind of score I'd download to hear a second time. And though I really enjoyed some of the ideas the set designer was playing with, particularly paying homage to the story's comic book roots with the words "Pow!" and "Bam!" popping up during fight scenes, it didn't go far enough to cohere.
The backdrop for the final battle though, which has the Chrysler building revolving until the audience gets a bird's eye view, so that Spiderman and the Goblin appear to be fighting a hundred stories high, was fantastic. And though I wished the actors playing Peter and MJ had more to sink their teeth into musically, their voices gave me goosebumps.
As we left the theater, the kids got handed Spidey backpacks (in celebration of back-to-school, all kids who attend the show starting August 20, while supplies last, will get a backpack), and that clinched it for Sec. She stopped shooting invisible webs for a second and affirmed, "The Amazing Spiderman really was amazing!" There you have it.