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The $75 million musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has been lampooned by Sesame Street and Conan O’Brien, dramatized by Law & Order: Criminal Intent, scrutinized by the press and ridiculed by comics fans. And now the most expensive production in Broadway history is the subject of a tell-all book.
The New York Times reports that Glen Berger, who collaborated on the show’s original script with former director Julie Taymor, has written Song of Spider-Man, which purports to document all of the betrayals and pettiness surrounding her firing in March 2011 and the sweeping overhaul of the production that followed. The newspaper obtained galleys of the book ahead of its Nov. 5 release from Simon & Schuster.
While much of the “behind-the-scenes” drama played out in the media, and in dueling lawsuits between the one-time director and the Spider-Man producers, the book apparently contains some revelations, including that Berger and Taymor worried the musical’s story was “ridiculous” even while they were writing it. Berger also contends that producer Michael Cohl withdrew Taymor’s tickets for the June 2011 opening night just hours before the show, leading the musical supervisor to provide her with one.
Even more interesting, at least to comics fans, is that Marvel executives allegedly voiced concerns over the years that Taymor’s vision “would damage their lucrative superhero brand.” The company had rejected an initial 20-page script treatment as “entirely wrong” and “quite dark,” and pushed for Taymor’s original creation Arachne to be cut. Ultimately, following Taymor’s departure, the tone of the show was lightened significantly, and the role of Arachne — Taymor’s signature creation — was diminished significantly.
Neither Taymor nor the producers of Spider-Man have read the book, and wouldn’t comment on its contents.