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Lights go out on Taymor’s version of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

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.

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Comments

3 Comments

Wow. I didn’t see that coming!

They could rename it “Spider-Man: Turn off the Snark”

i have opinions

April 15, 2011 at 11:12 am

Yeah, the Arachne character could only ever have worked as a guardian angel/master of ceremonies figure, not a player in the story… you could see that coming. However, the door has been left open for a great new villain in the Spider-Man comics- a spider-queen from another dimension who thinks Spider-Man is part of a big show that’s all about her. You could get an annual out of that. What’s the copyright situation?

Any kind of greek chorus needs a story that’s complex enough that there’s some point to having a group of random people come on stage and talk with the heroes about what’s happening. It doesn’t elevate the material to just put in “Greek stuff.”

It sounds like Taymor, Bono and the Edge all got together in an apartment to hash out the story and decided that they themselves throwing ideas around about Spider-Man were so exciting and charming that they had to appear in the play, hence the “Geek Chorus.” Taymor’s next innovation was to insert her own experience as the director as the Arachne character. Take out the Mary-Sue-isms and you’re left with what sounds like a summary of Peter Parker’s personal drama from the three movies. With ostentatious references to Greek mythology and huge expenditures to achieve a cheap-looking, self-consciously flat “comic book” look complete with visual sound effects, just like Schumacher’s Batman, Beatty’s Dick Tracy, and Ang Lee’s Hulk, you’ve got a perfectly uninspired, pretentious, uncreative fizzle that unlike bad movies can only be viewed by continuing to place a team of hard-working professionals under a daily threat to life and limb. It is a shame that Taymor didn’t get a chance to “make the changes she wanted” and “tell the story her way-” that is, how could anybody expect her to put the script through some second and third drafts BEFORE she had people dangling from the rafters? No, there’s a lot of blame to go around… there’s her and there’s everybody, and I do mean everybody, who spent money on this.

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