Robot 6

Reports: Taymor leaving Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, producers shutting down musical for overhaul [Updated]

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Besieged director Julie Taymor will leave Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark as producers prepare to shut down performances for two to three weeks to overhaul the $65 million musical, multiple sources report. However, The New York Times now contends she could remain in some capacity, “perhaps in name only,” following her rumored resignation Tuesday night.

The news follows two days of negotiations that were believed to center on the Tony Award-winning Taymor either working with an expanded creative team to retool production, or possibly exit the show she co-wrote and shepherded to Broadway. “Taymor is out. She’s left the building,” a source close to the production tells the New York Daily News.

The shutdown dates for Spider-Man, which was supposed to open March 15, are expected to cover late April and early May, The Times reports. However, a spokesman sticks by the line that “the opening night is still scheduled for March 15.” A shutdown would mean a loss of about $1.3 million a week — although still in previews, Spider-Man is one of the highest-grossing shows on Broadway — and push the production past the April 28 deadline for Tony Awards eligibility (apparently not a concern). Producers are now thought to be eyeing a June opening date, the show’s sixth.

According to the New York Post’s Michael Riedel, who’s gleefully chronicled the show’s many misfortunes, Taymor will be replaced by Christopher Ashley (Xanadu, The Rocky Horror Show). Comics writer and playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa “will have a go at Taymor’s baffling script, for which he’s being paid about $20,000,” while veteran conductor and musical supervisor Paul Bogaev will continue to work with Bono and the Edge, and help improve the performance, arrangements and sound quality.

Showbiz411’s Roger Friedman, a longtime friend of Taymor and a vocal defender of the production, writes that her departure “would be a terrible mistake”: “Spider Man is her show. Anyone who comes in will have to face that fact. The flying, the costumes. the sets, the 3D comic book life of the show — all belong to her. The tragedy in this is that Taymor, like most creative geniuses, may  have gotten lost along the way. She needs a collaborator — an editor, really — to shorten the first act, create a cliffhanger, and rearrange TV Carpio’s wonderful Arachne so she joins the plot organically and isn’t a speed bump in Act One. [...] The great fun of Spider Man is still in Taymor’s vision. Lose that now and the show’s main purpose will be gone too.”

Official announcements are expected later today.

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Comments

14 Comments

Put this down already like its old yeller

No, anyone who comes to the show will have to face the fact that the injury-creating flying, the campy costumes (Swiss Miss?), and the train wreck of a script all belong to Taymor. Based on her previous work, there’s no arguing Taymor is a theatrical genius. But even geniuses can go wrong. The entire show was bent from the concept forward.

The script doesn’t need editing. It was written by someone who doesn’t understand what the character is about and like many people in that situation, they dress it up with things like Greek mythology in an attempt to make it “deeper” or “more mythic.” It shows a lack of confidence with the source material that isn’t appreciated by a public familiar with the real thing.

This was doomed from the start. It was a bad idea, made worse by no talent Glam stars Bono and that other guy that hangs around him, and they keep throwing good money after bad. Shut it down, cut your losses, and come up with an original idea.

(sits back, with a box of Goobers)

This train wreck is fun to watch

If this thing opens by the time New York Comic Con hits in October, I’ll need to give it a look. It seems like one catastrophe after another and, while I tend to love Julie Taymor, it’s clear big changes are needed.

Someone needs to man up and shut this sucker down fast.

Every ‘genius’ does hit a bad one once in a while but this has been allowed to go on for far too long.

It is quickly becoming a joke. A sad pathetic joke.

It’s really telling that in a production which has cost over 65 million dollars, they’re only willing to pay 20 grand to have the script made comprehensible. Best of luck to Aguirre-Sacasa.

Simon DelMonte

March 9, 2011 at 7:59 am

Without any doubt, the biggest fiasco in the history of Broadway. It’s a shame that hundreds of talented young playwrights cannot get a break, even off-Broadway, while this thing sucks up money from all sources.

I’ve been seeing the same $65 million dollar show cost for months now. It has to be way more than that by now.

@Scud – Since it opened for previews, the show’s been selling well enough to cover it’s current costs (even earn a *little*). So that figure of $65 million is what they essentially still have to earn back.

By running at 98% capacity houses for 12 years. Aaaaand, I wish them *good luck* with that.

I’ll continue to popcorn.jpg at this.

Seriously, I went from being super excited and having tickets on opening night (the first one), to laughing at the terribleness, to not really caring. I have a little more faith now that Taymour is out (never cared for her, sorry), but we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully it’s salvageable. People will still go see it regardless.

Regardless of your feelings about U2, calling Bono and The Edge “no talent” is ridiculous. I also think that they are hardly to blame for this debacle of a show.

But then again, Roger Friedman’s comments are even more idiotic. He’s an apologist, and hardly one to take seriously given the high “journalistic standards” he’s known for. Ha.

It’s so easy to have all of this negative speculation on a show like this, but it really comes down to a question of trust, specifically directorial trust. A staged production of a comic book sounds terrible doesn’t it? However, a staged production of a Disney movie about talking lions sounds even more ridiculous. Yet, Taymor’s Lion King was one of the most successful and innovative hits on Broadway in the last 15 years. It’s still running today, which shows that it caters to its’ audience well. As a comic book fanboy I’d be more than pleased to see a production of Spider-man with as much innovation and success as Taymor typically produces. So, in short, overly critical speculation will do nothing but rush the show, which is dangerous for everyone involved as well as the fans.

Jake, the difference between The Lion King and Spiderman: Turn Off the Critics is that the former was a highly successful movie musical long before it was a play. The only thing required was to figure out how to stage animal-actors and I credit Taymor for finding an elegant solution to that problem. That’s very different, however, from coming up with a completely new story and music book for a well-known property that’s never been done as a musical before and, more importantly, from an entire GENRE that’s never been converted to a musical format before (unless you count “It’s A Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman” which was from 1966 and which also bombed, though not quite this catastrophically). The fact that Taymor is (a) revising the character’s origin to add the bizarrely inappropriate Greek mythology angle and (b) relying on a score written by successful rock musicians who have never worked in musical theater before are just icing on the cake.

I’m sticking with my theory that the producers are running an elaborate scam and that entire $65 million is sitting in a bank in Argentina waiting for when they flee the country to collect.

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