Friday, December 03, 2010

Spidey on Broadway?

According to a report in the New York Times, this past Saturday’s (attempted) full run-through of Spider-Man: Turn off the dark met with all sorts of delays and setbacks as by the dinner hour, only some 15 minutes of the show had been staged as the crew kept stopping to attend to numerous glitches in the tech aspects of the multi-million dollar extravaganza, only — according to all reports — it is just as likely to be the Great White Way’s own version of Heaven’s Gate (the 1980 Michael Cimino's bleak anti-western film that tanked to the tune of over $30 million and is generally considered one of the biggest box office bombs of all-time).
It’s supposed to be the biggest, costliest, splashiest show of the Broadway season, but so far it’s just the most troubled. Executives with “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” said Thursday that the opening of the oft-delayed, $60 million musical would be set back once again, this time by three weeks, meaning it will miss lucrative Thanksgiving week, forgo an attention-getting bow over Christmas, and open during the box office doldrums of January.
Well, this past week New York Magazine did a cover feature on the supposedly “cursed” Broadway musical. Still, director, Julie Taymor (The Lion King) remains cautiously optimistic about the play’s future, “This is a drama–rock-and-roll–circus, or a circus–rock-and-roll–drama; there’s no word for it. And what do they want? Two-character, one-set musicals? How is that helping the theater?”

Interesting enough one has to wonder how Marvel corporate views the controversy swirling around this play.

Marvel, though fiercely protective of its brand, approved many of Taymor’s inventions, not just Arachne but also a “geek chorus” of comic-book fans, a living switchblade of a villain called Swiss Miss, and, indeed, the whole structure of the drama. The bright-colored, plot-heavy first act basically tells a version of the familiar origin story: Bullied boy acquires special skills as the result of a mutated-spider bite; he gets revenge and confronts Green Goblin while bashfully courting the beautiful (and, in Taymor’s version, abused) Mary Jane. But Act Two consists almost entirely of new material. It takes Peter on a more symbolic moral journey, like the ones Taymor came to love in her studies of world theater, in which, as she describes them, enemies are both external and internal, and the gravest danger is hubris.
 Personally, we simply don’t know what to think, but we do keep hearing of  injuries to cast and crew, set pieces that don't work, and an ever-ballooning budget. Needless to say, if this white elephant (golden turkey) ever does get off the ground (both literally and figuratively), then you can fully expect us to be in that audience, thrilling to the new adventures of our favorite spandex hero.


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