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As the delay-plagued Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark finally prepares to begin previews — Sunday, if nothing else goes wrong — New York magazine takes us “Inside Broadway’s Most Expensive Musical Ever.”
The longish cover story serves as both a profile of Julie Taymor, the visionary director who’s been a lightning rod for criticism, and a chronicle of a production troubled by a financial shortfall, a ballooning budget, the loss of two stars, and technical difficulties that have thrust the musical into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
Here are some of the more interesting tidbits:
• The widely reported budget estimates, which range anywhere from $50 million to $65 million, apparently are “fantasies.” Says the show’s lead producer Michael Cohl: “They are like asking my dog ‘How much is the budget?’ and counting how many times he barks.” New York writer Jesse Green suggests the actual figure is even higher, “in the vicinity” of $70 million.
• Taymor wonders why writers even care how much the production costs: This is a drama–rock-and-roll–circus, or a circus–rock-and-roll–drama; there’s no word for it. And what do they want? Two-character, one-set musicals? How is that helping the theater?” She likes that “rock-and-roll-circus” description.
• The show’s frequently mocked subtitle, Turn Off the Dark? It’s something Bono overheard a friend’s child say.
• The musical’s version of Mary Jane Watson is “abused,” but the article doesn’t state by whom.
• Green describes the failed flying stunt that caused one performer to break both wrists as a “relatively minor incident,” and suggests it was blown out of proportion by pot-stirring New York Post columnist Michael Riedel. Granted, Riedel does seem to have it out for Taymor and Spider-Man, writing, “I’ve got my foot on its neck, and I’m having too much fun to take it off.”
• A photo caption appears to confirm the report from last week that Matthew James Thomas will be “the standby Parker,” filling in for star Reeve Carney for as many as two performances a week.