Written by Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 10:07
As any web-slinger can tell you, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This was, indeed, the case for Theatre Unleashed, the Los Angeles-based group that recently opened the West Coast premiere of Broadway parody and fan favorite The Spidey Project, but the cast and crew swung into action, providing a high energy and extremely entertaining performance featuring everyone’s favorite neighborhood Spider-Man.
For anyone who missed last year’s theatre buzz, The Spidey Project was the brainchild of New York writers Justin Moran (POPE! The Musical) and Jon Roufaeal as a response to the $65 million Broadway flop that was Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. With the hope of showing theatergoers that large price tags were not required to generate quality theatre, The Spidey Project was written, rehearsed, produced, and performed in 30 days on a $0 budget. The musical’s story follows lovable geek Peter Parker as he assumes strange superpowers and is forced to balance his duty to keep the people of New York safe with the terrors of high school.
Theatre Unleashed’s rendition of The Spidey Project takes place at Studio/Stage in Los Angeles, a cozy black box theatre that allowed space for the actors to swing from rooftop to rooftop, while also permitting the cast to involve the audience members. A vivacious band led by Jordan Ostrowski accompanied the performers offstage, despite sometimes overwhelming the singers’ voices. As the show continued, though, both the band and the performers reached a happy medium, allowing the lyrics to shine through.
The cast was truly phenomenal, and it was very clear that they had an amazing time bringing the material to life. Although the solid script, witty dialogue, and clever lyrics of The Spidey Project provided a strong jumping off point for the cast, the entire ensemble infused the performance with their own unique perspective and humor. A number of standout performances must be noted, including Alan Heitz as hysterically funny mad scientist Dr. Spiderman, Ben Atkinson as J. Jonah Jameson – not an easy role to fill, and above all else Darren T. Mangler as Uncle Ben and Flash Thompson. In addition, I greatly enjoyed Ryan J. Hill’s portrayal of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. His adorably nervous Peter Parker gave way to a powerful ballad in “A New Peter Parker,” where Hill truly stunned the audience with both his stellar vocals and newfound confidence in assuming his new identity and powers. In fact, I think it is safe to say that every audience member in the house felt like a kid again when Spider-Man made his first appearance in full costume.
I must commend the creative set design and thoughtful choreography that demonstrated to this comic book geek that the crew of The Spidey Project wanted to give die-hard fans a wink and a nod. The crew deftly orchestrated an action sequence that had Spider-Man swinging from building to building (as he tends to do), which was met with well-deserved cheers from the audience.
I highly recommend seeing Theatre Unleashed’s The Spidey Project. The show will run until April 14th at the Studio/Stage in Los Angeles. Be sure to visit www.theatreunleashed.com for further details. Simply put, The Spidey Project is a great opportunity for fans young and old to enjoy their favorite superhero.