Well, it looks like The Beatwill have to see Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark again! Because when it officially opens–in JUNE this time–it could be a different show.
The NY Times reports that what everyone was whispering yesterday was true: the opening has been delayed until June, and the production — the most expensive in Broadway history — will take a break to try to fix some of the problems, and probably bring in a fixer.
The precise dates for the shutdown — needed to give the cast a break and to hold new rehearsals — have not been set, but they are expected to cover late April and early May, the people said. [snip]
Who would oversee the creative changes has been an open question. The producers on Tuesday continued negotiating with their director, Julie Taymor, and her fellow creators, U2’s Bono and the Edge, about the composition of the artistic team going forward and about whether it would continue to include Ms. Taymor, according to the people briefed on the producers’ planning.
After months of injuries, equipment problems, and horrendous reviews, the people who have been sinking money into this have finally realized that someone needs to actually sit down and fix it — this show has to run for a few years, spawn touring shows, soundtracks and merchandise if they are to make back any of their $65 million investment. And a show this rocky can’t do this.
It’s looking increasingly like Taymor will be pulled from the production, and either Christopher Ashley ( “Memphis” and “The Rocky Horror Show”) or Philip William McKinley (“The Boy From Oz”) will come in to try to fix the show’s problems.
This is a huge blow to Taymor, whose vision the show undoubtedly reflects. But the buzz around town has long been that some of the problems stem from all the time she took off making and promoting her film THE TEMPEST. Not only did the original cast bail — Alan Cumming and Evan Rachel Wood as Green Goblin and Mary Jane, respectively — but the show did not have enough rehearsal time to work out the complex production.
As someone who actually saw the show, I’ll jump in here with another criticism: I’m a huge U2 fan (looking at an online slideshow of the band’s history I realized I’d been at three of the 50 events shown) but as much as I love their music, it is not suited to making a good Broadway musical. The best U2 songs are moody, riff-driven dramas borne aloft by the dynamic of Bono’s voice and the band. People don’t cover many U2 songs — they are meant for Bono to sing.
Great show tunes have an entirely different dramatic structure. Ironically, the music in the problematic second act is a lot more interesting than that in the mostly–okay first act, but it still doesn’t convey enough of the drama. The big ballad “Boy Falls From The Sky” comes at a climactic moment as Spider-Man decides he has to pick up his costume once more to defeat Arachne. But after that the tunes don’t really cover the the REST of the conflict between Spidey and Arachne, which falls flat, probably because it wasn’t there a month or so ago. If Bono and the Edge really wanted to help this show, they would have taken time off from touring the world months ago to tinker with their tunes.
If the Spider-Man musical is ultimately seen as a failure for Taymor, Bono and Edge, it is still something that didn’t play by the rules, and that should be saluted. As Beat pal Dan Kois tweeted:
Without Taymor, Spider-Man will almost definitely turn into a more accessible, more poppy, more coherent, and waaaaaaaaay more boring show.
I wish Spider-Man had succeeded as the daring myth-building that it tried to be. There is still a chance it will succeed, but as something much more expected.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.