Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark was a bigger than life $75 million dollar almost-failure. It was the butt of theater jokes for months (if not years), after it seriously injured 5 actors, had a major re-write in the middle and postponed actually opening on Broadway numerous times. Song of Spider-Man is the process of trying to open the show as seen through the eyes of the show’s writer, Glen Berger.
While Berger fully admits that the book may have burned some of his bridges, it’s a surprisingly candid look at the process of attempting to bring a huge NEW show to the stage and what it ultimately takes.
Why is this on our bookshelf?
Because it’s the only book out there on the theatricalization of a comic book hero, and HAVE YOU MET ME? I work in theater and read comics. That’s really all the justification I needed.
Rating (5 stars)
I’m really the perfect storm of audience member for this book: I’m a geeky theater technician with a German-descended taste for schadenfreude.
Glen Berger details the rise and fall of Spider-Man, Turn Off The Dark with both the buyoant optimism of an artist starting a new venture and the angry despair of a theater person who’s been pushed just one step too far and now sort of hopes the whole thing crashes and burns.
Because I work in-industry, Song of Spider-Man was full of great “yeah, I’ve totally worked with that type of jerk” moments, but at the same time, it’s a great candid reveal for the rest of the world just how the personalities in production on a theater piece actually function. (that is to say, sometimes they don’t, and people just get blamed.)
Anyone who’s been involved in a sinking production at any level will absolutely empathize with Glen Berger, and anyone who’s been too dazzled by all the pretty lights and jazz hands will learn just how unglamorous bits of the profession can be…. although we do get to play with some pretty awesome toys and pretend to be other people on the regular, so it all probably balances out.
Read this book:
If you can sing at least one show tune on command.
Don't Read this book:
If you picked on the theater kids in high school.
Once you're done, do this:
Put on your Sunday clothes and re-watch Wall-E, because who doesn’t love a Hello, Dolly! obsessed robot?