'Spider-Man' leaves audience and cast hanging

Nov. 29, 2010 at 1:50 PM ET

Sara Krulwich / Redux Pictures /
The opening scene from the musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" during a rehearsal in New York, on Nov. 20.

"Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" had its first preview performance on Sunday night, but instead of leaving theater-goers excited about the most expensive show to be produced on Broadway, they were left wondering why a show with an estimated $60-million budget was so not ready for prime time.

According to one person who was in the audience for the inaugural public performance, a spokesperson did issue a warning before the show's start that "there might be some starts and stops," but those starts and stops were great in number, and incredibly awkward.

"The first took place about halfway through the first act," said the source. "It's not totally clear why the stop happens, but it and all of the stops are announced over the house mic, and the actors all freeze on stage in whatever position they were in when the stop is called." That first stop was about three minutes long, "which doesn't sound that long," said the source, "but certainly feels it, especially when all the actors are just stuck there, frozen."

In the show, many of the action scenes take place overhead, with actors dangling from cords, which turned out to be a source of trouble. "One of the chords fell and grazed the audience," said the source. During another stop, a character suspended from a cocoon about 20 feet above the stage was "stuck dangling for a good five or six minutes."

"Beyond that, the show just made no sense. The plot has serious problems," said the source, "But the music (by U2's Bono and The Edge) is really good."

The entire concept of a putting a show in previews before the official opening is so the production can work out potential kinks; if the audience's reaction to one vocal critic during Sunday's performance is any indication, people will be patient during this process.

During a long stop in the second act, a woman yelled, "I feel like a guinea pig! This is more like a dress rehearsal than a preview," and that woman was booed, said the source.

"Spider-Man" is set to officially open Jan. 11.