Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, the Broadway musical set to officially open on January 11, 2011, has been in the news a lot lately, and not because the buzz for the show has been spectacular. No, it’s been quite the opposite. In fact, news about this musical has been nothing short of disastrous from the beginning.
The Spider-Man musical, based on the famous webslinging Marvel Comics character, was written by Julie Taymor (who also directs) and Glen Berger, with music and lyrics by U2’s Bono and The Edge, and is currently in previews at the Foxwoods Theatre on Broadway in New York City. While the musical has been long in the works, the production has been fraught with delays and budgets problems, first running out of money last year, and now soaring up to $65 million, making it the most expensive Broadway musical ever.
Then there’s the much-talked about technical difficulties, as the daring aerial stunts to be performed have proven to be not practical or even safe for live theater. Back in October, two actors from the musical came forward, revealing that they sustained injuries during rehearsals. Actor Kevin Aubin broke his wrists in a catapulting stunt during a special presentation of the show, according to NY Post, while another actor stated he’d broken his feet a month earlier while performing the same move as Aubin, according to NY Times.
The press release for the musical touted, “Forget everything you think you know about Broadway; Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark will hurtle the audience through a thrilling experience in ways never-before-dreamed-possible in live theater.” Ironically, the NYP, which covered last night’s preview performance, reports that the story was not only confusing, but the technical difficulties of late were in full force, including one that left the show’s star dangling in midair for nearly eight minutes.
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.
You have to wonder, why is this musical still happening?
Don’t get me wrong, I love musicals. I grew up in NYC going to Broadway and off-Broadway plays my entire life, and have a great appreciation for live theater. I understand that a play in previews is not perfect, and it’s the production’s time to get out all the kinks. But I’ve seen more-deserving plays here close in mere days, while Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is still going strong, despite the continuous stream of negative press and reported horror stories. Yes, there are huge names behind this endeavor — Taymor was the mastermind behind Broadway success Disney’s The Lion King — and millions of dollars sunk into this project, but still — it’s NOT WORKING. The stunts are going array, the audience has no clue what’s going on in the story, and the music, well, it’s basically U2 singing about Spider-Man — not necessarily a bad thing, in my opinion (I like U2), but it’s all about how the songs are performed within the context of the story.
Last night’s opening pre view 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.
The people behind Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark have about six weeks to work out all the problems with this production, and if they can pull it off and get audiences into the seats, this musical will be a shining success. If not, it’ll go down as the biggest flop in Broadway history.
Check out the video here below of a 15-minute segment from last night’s 60 Minutes, which includes interviews with Taymor, Bono, and The Edge, along with scenes from the musical and behind-the-scenes footage of the musical rehearsals, which includes Bono singing some of the tunes he penned. On the one hand, you have to admire Taymor’s willingness to take risks and for wanting to see her vision followed through; on the other hand, it’s possible that there’s no one reining her in to say that perhaps her vision just isn’t quite right.
SYNOPSIS: The show follows the story of teenager Peter Parker, whose unremarkable life is turned upside-down, literally, when he’s bitten by a genetically altered spider and wakes up the next morning clinging to his bedroom ceiling. This bullied science-geek suddenly endowed with incredible powers soon learns, however, that with great power comes great responsibility as villains put both his physical strength and strength of character to the test, and being with the girl next door, Mary Jane, may prove to be the greatest responsibility of all.