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Spider-Man musical debut gets hung up


Well, it has actually happened. We’ve been covering the Spider-Man musical story since it was first whispered, 5 or 6 years ago, and last year, at the Foxwoods Theatre in Manhattan, the very first public performance of the musical, directed by theater great Julie Taymor, with music by Bono and the Edge, of well known rock band, U2. Some thought this day would never come.

And to persuade theater-goers that it really was happening, show organizers put on a full court press for the press in recent days, with a


profile in the New York Times capturing the camaraderie of the lovable misfits putting the show together:

Bono observed: “The scope of this thing is just hard to grasp sometimes. It just doesn’t fit into the normal —— “

“Broadway mishegoss,” Ms. Taymor said.

“Right,” Bono said. “And trying to blend comic books — which is a very American contribution to the world of mythology — and rock music and Broadway into this thing of art that we don’t even have a word for.”

and just last night, a story on 60 Minutes that was some 18 months in the making as the show got delayed more and more

The story can be viewed in the above link and it lays out the pros and cons pretty succinctly:

• well known creative team
• most daring Broadway staging ever, on the scale of Le Cirque du Soleil in terms of people swinging around on cables.
• Hey, look out, there’s goes the Spider-Man!

• Most expensive musical by far in Broadway history
• Show must sell out every night for years before coming close to breaking even
• Stunts far from figured out, flinging performers across the stage and breaking bones

But tickets are on sale!

And how did last night’s first ever preview performance go? Uh, there were…problems.

Last night’s opening preview of Broadway’s most expensive production ever, “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” was an epic flop as the $65 million show’s high-tech gadgetry went completely awry amid a dull score and baffling script, theatergoers griped.

Stunned audience members were left scratching their heads over the confusing plot — when they weren’t ducking for cover from falling equipment and dangling actors at the Foxwoods Theatre on West 42nd Street, some said.

At various points, overhead stage wires dropped on the audience, scenery appeared on stage missing pieces — and the show’s star was even left swaying helplessly over them midair during what was supposed to be the climatic end to the first act.

The Times has an ever-so-slightly more sympathetic view of the proceedings:

When Sunday’s performance did stop, the audience was warmly charitable for the most part. At one point in Act I, Mr. White asked for a round of applause for the actress Natalie Mendoza (who played the villainess Arachne) as she hung in mid-air during a six-minute pause. Later in the act, the actor Patrick Page (as the Green Goblin) improvised a bit by repeating some of the lyrics from his song “I’ll Take Manhattan.”

But it still sounds like one of the most legendary nights of theater disaster in history.

Which is a shame, because the parts of the show that have been seen are quite spectacular, and if they ever figure out how to actually do it, people would be thrilled.

What would be a thrill right now is for a performance to actually run through without someone getting hurled or stopping in mid-air.

  1. While it’s true that the show would need to run forever to make its money back, I suspect that’s no longer the real question. Much of the money is spent, whatever happens. The show may never turn a profit, but if it opens, at least it has a chance to minimise its losses. And it sounds like what they have here is a show that plainly isn’t ready, but simply HAS to open to try and claw some money back. If they haven’t got it working after all this time, you have to question whether it’s truly stageable at all.

  2. I’d have to go with Bill’s post. It’s either a tax scam or they just can’t say no to Bono. It seems obvious that it’s a horrible idea from the start. These people are just too wrapped up in themselves to realize there’s a real world out there that will see this as a Joel Schumacher wet dream and stay far away from it.

  3. no play ever makes money. ever. Gospel style theater is the only form of theater making any kind of profit at all right now.

    my work is work in theater, and i can tell you that it’s not ticket sales going into my paycheck.

    Spiderman is probably being funded like any other play. Grants, private donors, fundraising, and sponsorships. money that doesnt have to be paid back.

    Spiderman will never ever ever break even. i doubt anyone involved ever expected it too.

    it will play until it starts to lose even more money, or until the producers get tired of having it in their theater and put it on the road.

  4. Up until this broadway show I thought the worse thing to ever happen to Spiderman was the Clone Saga or OMD! :-O

  5. I watched the 60 Minutes piece, and I am fully on board. I think the show looks great, if nothing else, and I hope it’s a success. I definitely hope to see it at some point.

  6. “overhead stage wires dropped on the audience”

    I hope they keep that part. That part is my favorite part. (It’s a metaphor for Mysterio). Two full minutes underwater!

    A well-run Spiderman musical sounds horrible, but a Spiderman musical where the actor playing Spiderman, I don’t know, maybe he gets decapitated? Who wouldn’t want to see Spiderman’s head pop off and blood gush out from his neck, like a bottle of champagne, while U2’s Zooropa album plays in the background? Spiderman’s dying in the comics, too. Give the people what they want.

  7. “does not, alas, speak hopefully for the future of the Broadway musical.” NEW YORK TIMES

    “Overproduced, overblown, confusingly dark and laboriously ambitious jumble.” NEWSDAY

    “It’s such a … waste of talent” NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

    “The show’s twenty-two songs …, and not one of them is memorable.” NEW YORKER

    Reviews of WICKED’s 2003 opening night.

  8. I’m really looking forward to seeing it.

    Aside from already liking the tunes, and expecting the entire production to be spectacular: Knowing the performers, at any time, might be smashed, crashed into the floor (or left to helplessly dangle) promises intensity completely missing from today’s action films and TV shows.

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