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This weekend will provide audiences with their last chance to see Julie Taymor’s version of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, warts, shoe-shopping numbers and all. When the curtain comes down on Sunday afternoon, the $70-million musical will go on a three-week hiatus, during which an expanded creative team, headed by new director Philip William McKinley, will make sweeping changes.
When the lights come back on May 12, The New York Times reports, Spider-Man will be vastly different from the show Taymor developed for the better part of a decade (until her firing early last month) and that critics savaged in February.
The newspaper confirms that many of Taymor’s signature elements will be stripped, including the four-person geek chorus — described in some reviews as “useless” and “utterly superfluous” — and “Deeply Furious,” a widely panned number in which the eight-legged villainess Arachne goes shopping for shoes with her minions.
Green Goblin’s Act I death has been cut — the classic villain previously died in the first act, only to return, to some confusion, in the second — and his role expanded. However, Arachne, a character created by Taymor in 2002, as expected doesn’t fare as well. Inspired by Greek mythology, the villainess was depicted as responsible for Peter Parker gaining his powers, and came to dominate Act II. Now Arachne has been reduced to a kind of guardian angel.
According to The Times, the new creative team aims to make Spider-Man less dark and more family-friendly in an effort to fill the Foxwoods Theatre. While the show as grossed about $1.3 million a week in its unprecedented preview period, that’s barely enough to cover production costs. And the musical needs to be at least moderately successful on Broadway to ensure future productions in Las Vegas and London.