I’m told that the producers of the troubled Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark have hired Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to rewrite the book originally done by Julie Taymor and Glen Berger. Considering that one of the criticisms of the show is that it lacks an insider’s voice about the webslinger, Aguirre-Sacasa is a strong choice. While his credits include most recently writing a new book to the Charles Strouse/Lee Adams musical It’s A Plane, It’s SUPERMAN! that was a hit at the Dallas Theatre Center, he has also written Spider-Man comics for Marvel. He also writes on the HBO series Big Love and Aguirre-Sacasa is repped by WME.
The $65 million production pushed back a fifth time to a March 15 opening night, but most critics weighed in this month with scathing reviews. Songwriters Bono and The Edge recently brought in their record producer Steve Lillywhite, and the production has been honing its safety practices after a litany of injuries. This is perhaps the most serious move they’ve made to improve the book. Stay tuned.
Early this morning, Deadline ran a clip of Saturday Night Live’s fun commercial parody dealing with injury lawsuits suffered by cast an audience of Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. In case you missed it, it’s worth a watch:
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has delayed its February 7 opening, yet again. This time, opening night will be March 15 as Julie Taymor and her creative collaborators including U2′s Bono and The Edge try to work more bugs out of the musical’s system. This one’s not going to sit well in places like The New York Times. Critic Charles Isherwood, clearly gritting his teeth, recently ran an article saying the paper would hold its tongue, despite “reviews” written for Bloomberg News by Jeremy Gerard (who paid $292 for his orchestra seat) and another in Newsday by critic Linda Winer. It’s getting to the point now where reviewers will be hard-pressed to hold off any longer. Spider-Man is packing the house in preview performances (Glenn Beck just issued the musical’s first full fledged rave), and the musical might be better off selling tickets in an endless run of previews, without ever having an official opening. That might be the $65 million musical’s best hope of recouping. The postponement comes as The New Yorker Magazine unveils a cover that makes light of the litany of accidents suffered during the aerial portion of the show. Here’s the official word:
New York, NY – Lead producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris announced tonight that SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark has delayed its opening night (previously set for February 7, 2011) to Tuesday, March 15th to allow for more time to fine-tune aspects
Steve Lillywhite, the British record producer who has collaborated with U2 on eight albums, has been brought in by Bono and Julie Taymor to work with the performers on the music for the $65 million Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. I’m told that he’s been a fixture this week at the Foxwoods Theatre, helping the cast with the songs penned by Bono and The Edge as they prepare for the February 7 opening night of the best musical that Glenn Beck has ever seen.
In Lillywhite, the Spidey cast gets a producer who has working with everyone from Peter Gabriel to the Talking Heads, Dave Matthews Band, and the Rolling Stones. Lillywhite was also in the mix for a bit to replace Simon Cowell on American Idol.
Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark has a replacement for Natalie Mendoza, who left the role of Arachne after suffering a concussion. The role went to T.V. Carpio, an actress who has worked for director Julie Taymor in the film Across the Universe and who made her Broadway debut in Rent. She filled in for the injured Mendoza a few times, but her first performance as permanent Arachne happens Tuesday evening. She was already in the original cast, playing the role of Miss Arrow. Alice Lee will take over that role.
The musical, which continues in previews until February 7, just posted the third highest holiday week gross on Broadway, with $1.88 million for eight performances. That fell behind the Taymor-directed The Lion King at $1.99 million, and the perennial top-grosser Wicked, which grossed $2.2 million. With that level of business, maybe Spider-Man will pack them in, whether critics like the $65 million show or not.
2ND UPDATE: A spokesman for the musical said that preview performances will resume tomorrow night. “Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Actors Equity and the New York State Department of Labor have met with the Spider-Man company today to discuss additional safety protocols. It was agreed that these measures would be enacted immediately. Tomorrow’s matinee has been postponed and will be rescheduled. Tomorrow evening’s, and all subsequent performances will proceed as scheduled.” Inspectors cited “human error” as the explanation for the latest mishap.
UPDATE: New York Post columnist Michael Riedel has now confirmed that Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was shut down today following the fourth injury suffered during preview performances. Actors Equity confirmed that State Department of Labor investigators are once again scrutinizing whether the show can be performed safely.
EARLIER: Another preview of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark ended last night with yet another cast member injured. This time, an actor fell into the orchestra pit, and the performance was halted just short of completion. That makes four performers injured during the early preview performances of a musical directed by Julie Taymor with music and lyrics by U2′s Bono and The Edge. Accidents on action-laden feature films sometimes happen–an extra was left disabled and disfigured in an accident on the set of Transformers 3 earlier this year–but how long before Spidey’s creatives think about toning down the sophisticated acrobatics and onstage stunts before … Read More »
As expected, the much-troubled Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark has delayed its opening night from January 11, 2011 to Monday, February 7. The $65 million musical, which has found itself more under a microscope than just about any Broadway-bound musical because of the record price tag and star creatives, has been plagued by injuries to cast members taking part in acrobatics scenes. The Lion King‘s Julie Taymor is directing a book she wrote with Glen Berger, with music and lyrics by U2′s Bono and The Edge. Preview performances will continue at the Foxwoods Theater on 42nd Street, but the creatives continue to tweak both the songs and the book, per The New York Times. Pushing until they’re absolutely ready is smart; beyond Spider-Man, only a musical like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s delayed Phantom of the Opera sequel Love Never Dies will be welcomed with such an intense level of media and critical scrutiny.
Here is the official release:
New York, NY – Lead producer Michael Cohl announced today that SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark has delayed its opening night (previously set for January 11, 2011) to Monday, February 7. Directed by Julie Taymor and featuring a book by Julie Taymor and Glen Berger, and new music and lyrics by U2’s Bono and The Edge, SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark is now in previews at Broadway’s Foxwoods Theatre (213 West 42nd Street). All performances prior to the new opening night
Despite all the skepticism it would ever get to Broadway because of its prohibitive running costs, Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark has been set to begin preview performances on November 14, with opening night set for December 21. Julie Taymor will direct from the book she wrote with Glen Berger, with music and lyrics by U2′s Bono and The Edge. The musical will play the Foxwoods Theatre on West 42nd Street. Reeve Carney plays Peter Parker, Jennifer Damiano plays Mary Jane Watson and Patrick Page plays The Green Goblin. The musical shapes up as one of the costliest ever to hit Broadway, and tickets top out at $140. Carney, a rock musician, plays a lead role in the Taymor-directed The Tempest, a film that will play both the Toronto and Venice festivals.
UPDATE: Disney announced today that the Touchstone pic The Tempest directed by Julie Taymor is now dated for December 10th exclusive and December 17 for limited expansion.
Taymor has her hands full trying to get Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark to Broadway this upcoming season. But she’ll detour to Italy, where her film The Tempest is set as the closing film of the Venice Film Festival. Taymor’s Shakespeare adaptation stars Helen Mirren, Russell Brand, Alfred Molina, Chris Cooper, Djimon Honsou, and Reeve Carney. She set the latter to play Spider-Man in the pricey Broadway musical with music and lyrics by U2′s Bono and The Edge. Venice has bookended its fest with Taymor and the opener Black Swan, the Darren Aronofsky-directed drama.