Robot 6

Spider-Man musical’s first performance caught in web of mishaps

From the "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" video

The good news for producers and hopeful fans of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is that the delay-plagued $65-million musical finally previewed Sunday night on Broadway. The bad, if not unexpected, news is … things didn’t go well.

Sure, nobody died, as Vulture so helpfully points out. But the ambitious, technically complex production began 24 minutes late, and then went downhill from there. According to The New York Times, Act I was paused four times — the first coming a half-hour into the show to allow the crew to free star Reeve Carney from an aerial harness. The act’s final pause, described as “the worst glitch of the night by far,” came when Spider-Man was left dangling over the audience before the stage manager abruptly called for intermission.

New York Post critic Michael Riedel, who has gleefully chronicled Spider-Man‘s misfortunes, reports that a scene in which Mary Jane (Jennifer Damiano) was supposed to be rescued from atop the Chrysler Building faltered as part of the building came up missing, and Mary Jane never materialized.

The performance crawled on for 3 1/2 hours, during which time some audience members walked out, one person yelled, “I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I feel like a guinea pig today — I feel like it’s a dress rehearsal,” and Green Goblin (Patrick Page) was forced to stall for time while crew members “openly rushed around to fix faulty equipment.”

Still, though, it could’ve gone worse. Right?

After the break you can watch the segment on the making of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark that aired last night on CBS’s 60 Minutes.



Anyone surprised by this? Anyone? Anyone at all?

The actors and stage crew have my sympathies.

It’s Julie Taymor, so yes, I’m surprised.

Neil: Right on.

… and now the Batman show ill be canceled.

At least nobody died.

Kenneth Kreiesel

November 29, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I just hope the new “Batman and Robin” stadium extravaganza is taking notes. I’m just surprised that they didn’t think this through before, wouldn’t you.

I can’t stop laughing, oh lord seriously I can’t.

Look, you may think this is cruel but honestly what did you think was going to happen? I feel sorry for all involved because they could have been doing something so much more worthwhile and they are stuck with this but surely they stuck around for the pay check? If there was other work (I don’t know if there was I’m just saying if someone offered them something else) surely the cast and crew would have had the sense to jump ship on this Titanic.

As much as I like Spidey and U2, I had zero interest in seeing a Spidey musical scored by U2. The more complicated I heard this thing becoming, the worse it sounded to me…

So far this show has the technical issues of Hollywood Boulevard and the tantalizing threat of injury of Starlight Express.

The music sounds very promising. It’s going to take a lot to get comic readers to understand Julie Taymor’s surrealist style of presentation.

I hope Spidey’s adhesive powers can hold him on thie uphill climb.

Lead, “jumping ship” isn’t really an option. I’ve done a little acting at the Berkeley Repertory Theater, which is respected but nothing close to as big as a Broadway production, and they make you sing a contract there. If you have contractual obligations at the Rep then you can be damn sure you do on Broadway, and the consequences for breach are probably much, much higher.

Even besides that, there’s still this whole acting culture of staying with a project and committing yourself no matter how much of a turd it might be turning into. “The show must go on”, and all that.

Meant to say “sign” a contract, although the typo probably wouldn’t be out of the question :P

So yeah, I closely follow every little nugget of this seemingly-impending-train-wreck for the enjoyment/schadenfreude, as many of seem to do, but I can’t help but wonder how this plays to the “civilians” — is the show really perceived as troubled to the outside? It’s getting huge coverage, it’s looks darn purty if you’re not a purist, and it’s from U2+”The Lion King Lady” — how does the “real world” see this?

From all the problem’s we’ve been hearing about this show for MONTHS now, I’m not in the least bit surprised at all the glitches that happened.

I hope they film at least one of the good performances of this show to sell as a DVD, b/c I don’t see this show hanging around (pun intended) for that long…

I also wondered “What were they thinking?”

I remember back at around the time that Frank Langella made a big splash with Dracula, a lavish production of Frankenstein was put in to production. Over a million dollars was spent, and it lasted a week. It was considered a huge flop. The plug was pulled. This production is over $60 million! Will the plug get pulled? How will they ever make their money back?

Seriously, who thought this would work?

It always seemed like a whole ball of suck from the beginning.

Okay one more thing: The ‘real world’ sees this as another New York extravagance with no relevance to anyone outside of those who can spend $100+ for tickets to musical theater in NYC, so y’know I think 90% of this country don’t care about it, and don’t know about it. Same as usual with theater and musical theater, a tiny elitist audience of New Yorkers who never STFU about it.

hahaha flippin’ incredible!

thinking about the Lion King, plus the huge budget makes me wonder (again) (and to DJ’s point about it being of interest only to NYC) — are they hoping to tour this eventually? Good luck… (I’d say break a leg, but you know…)

did anyone seriously think this was not going to be a disaster? Seriously-seriously?

@artiepants: pretty much all the Julie Taymor apologists that have been popping in these comments sections and mocking the stupid, uncultured fanboys for even entertaining the thought that the great Julie Taymor could possibly ever fail.

I know the comic is the comic and the stage is the stage. But after Civil War #2 I knew the character was doomed. Did anyone think this was a great idea? That’s the thought I had after that horrendous issue and I had that though for the next year and a half as things got even worse. Now the stage version has come.

I miss the old Spider-man before movie or stage adaptions when he wasn’t a magic-based thing. I miss the actual Spider-man.

I enjoyed the irrelevant Civil War reference.

“It’s shway!’ “It’s shwarbage!” “Nuff said!”

I still can’t wait to watch this. We all make mistakes here and there. S

Bring it on Spider-Man


November 29, 2010 at 4:00 pm

People have to realize that what happened IS what happens on previews – it is what previews are for.

We’ve become very used to previews being performance ready shows – but that is because so few shows are as tech heavy as this show obviously is.

This is why previews are always at a reduced rate.

I saw Ian Holm play King Lear in previews at the National for a mere 10 pounds. Things went wrong – nothing terrible, but costumes had problems and lights didn’t do as they were supposed to.

All the while the director of the play sat two seats down from me scribbling notes for the cast and crew – because that is what previews are for.

Had the same experience when I saw a show at Steppenwolf in Chicago a few years back, directed by John Malkovich – things went wrong – and he too was in the theatre, taking notes.

That’s what previews are for.

As an actor, I have to say that it might be time to cut this show some slack and see what it is like by the time it actually opens – because previews are not opening night.

Whoa, DrunkJack…you’re insultingly off base on the “elitist New Yorkers” comment.

As a Broadway employee, I can tell you for certain that there is a massive tourism market for Broadway shows. The “elitists” you decry have zero interest in something like this, except to sit back and watch Taymor’s Rome burn.

I believe that the overall hope is to make this thing stand as a New York tourism staple like Phantom of the Opera has been (and Wicked is becoming), and reign in ticket sales from visitors flocking to the new “must-see” (The Lion King, Julie’s other juggernaut is certainly in that category too).

Sadly, I don’t see that happening as this project has gotten much too big to be sustainable (or even possibly launchable if these problems continue).

Correction: Nobody wants to see the $60 million dollar Spider-man either.

The show was in previews, and has not officially opened. Anyone who purchased preview tickets should understand that. With a show that is this heavily technical, you simply must expect some delays. So yeah, if you feel like a guinea pig, it’s because you sort of are. Shows very frequently make major changes throughout preview performances, and it that was the first night of previews, you can be sure some of those problems will either be outright cut, rethought, or fixed.

This is by no means going to be an earth-moving show. It’s a little bit stunt-show, a little bit musical. It will be years before it recoups its money, so even if it’s sold out for months and months it will still be under the specter of a “huge potential flop”. It won’t be until it breaks even years down the road that people will stop calling this thing a turkey, and then it will suddenly be the biggest hit ever.

Only time will tell. In the meantime, the cynics need to STFU. You’ve got four years to be right calling this thing a turkey, it’s not like you’re putting yourself on the line to say that. By the time the show becomes profitable you’ll be once again hiding under your rock. The real risk here is that which the producers have taken, and they should be given some respect for attempting to bring something unique and daring to the stage.

I’m surprised at how many people are shocked that there were stops and technical glitches in preview night. It’s preview night, not opening night. The woman who heckled, complaining that it was a dress rehearsal obviously didn’t know what she had signed on for, because preview nights are dress rehearsals in front of test audiences. Films have preview screenings months before the film is released, and stage productions have preview nights. Stops and glitches are going to happen, especially with some of the stunts that are being attempted. Relax, hold in your rage, and wait until opening night before judging the production.

I need to echo what SchnitzyPretzelpants said… this is what previews are for. Years ago I worked in professional theatre on the tech side and on tech heavy shows these sorts of problems were usual for a first preview. There hasn’t been a show this tech heavy in years, so this is all pretty expected right now.

If they are still having this level of problems a few days before opening night, *then* you can say the production is doomed.

After seeing the 60 Minutes preview I would love to see this show. At the very least I’d love to see the sets. They look amazing. The ticket prices are still absurd but almost make sense for the expense. Hopefully the do a recording of it so that those of us who aren’t going on trips to New York can go see it. They can probably do a DVD of it and make back money even if the show itself really does flop.

“Over a million dollars was spent, and (Frankenstein) lasted a week”

Correction – one night. January 4, 1981

Expenses included several thousand dollars worth of flash paper for the pyro effects.

Yep. The first preview, guys. Mark my words–by 1/11, they’ll have it together.

Sir Manley Johnson

November 29, 2010 at 7:07 pm

I don’t think it is the technical issues that will doom this show, it’s more the question of who the audience will be. This show isn’t directed at comic book fans or even U2 fans. It’s a spectacle and perhaps if it is spectacular enough the audience will be found. It won’t however be me or I suspect, most people who come to comic book resources. If bright lights and music fill seats this will go on and on. However I would not personally invest in this project. It just seems like a bad idea all around.

Apparently the guy lamenting the “dress rehearsal” feel had never been to a preview before. Dress rehearsal is exactly what it is, and it is done expressly for the purpose of finding out how it plays in front of an audience prior to opening, and seeing where the technical issues are. Believe me, this show sounds awful, but that preview is no different from any other highly technical show. Six weeks will be a layup to fix that stuff. Now, the awful music and absurd premise? That’s something else entirely.

To paraphrase South Park: “This one time, like eight months ago, I saw two guys kissing in a park. And that was the gayest thing I’d ever seen until I saw Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark ”

Bono want his num-num?

I saw it. It wasn’t the technical glitches that really hindered the show in the long run.

It was the TERRIBLE story. Most of it is dictated by some crazy spider lady who signs about shoes randomly. It makes NO SENSE at all.

And the score is completely unintelligible. You can’t understand a single word they are singing. It’s all just a bunch of mumbling blurred together filled with angst.

The technical problems were insane, several stops and misfires, but in the end, even if they fix those, they can’t fix that absolute absurd story/book.

The entire second act is one big hot mess/dream/fake illusion or something. Still not sure exactly what happened.

Also the time period jumps between modern day and the 1950s for some unknown reason. Every reporter scene takes you back to the good ol days of misogyny and tommy guns.

I think they’d be better off if they just acted out the 2-part “Twisted Toyfare Theatre” based on the play. It could just be Bono and The Edge playing with action figures.

You don’t see any comics based on Cats or Little Shop of Horrors do you? Broadway leave comics alone!

I don’t think comics translate well into plays or musicals. Movies sometimes don’t work either. Look at Superman 2-5. Awful.
Batman after Micheal Keaton–(although I have not seen the current Dark Knight series).

However in 1967, IT’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman made it to broadway. It closed after only 3 months. One of its minor stars, Linda Lavin went onto TV fame. This musical was well received and even nominated for several Tony awards. It has been revived several times on tours.…It%27s_a_Plane…It%27s_Superman

A Spiderman musical though? With prices the way they are on Broadway today, the people who could afford it would probably not go and the people who would see it, (fanboys like myself) don’t have the bread. I would rather spend 10 bucks on a bad movie than 100.00 on a play and discover that it is horrible.

If the people who wrote Spider-Man at anytime in his past history (comics, movies and cartoons) were the writers, then I would say it had a chance of succeeding as they would have had some familiarity with the subject matter. These writers appear not to have that benefit.

Well all I can say to them is good luck! Prove all the naysayers wrong and be a winner.

Leave a Comment


Browse the Robot 6 Archives