Spider-Man has come a long way since its 1962 comic debut. Ever since everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood Spider-Man began web-slinging from page to page, Marvel Comics has consistently tried to cross him over into other media. There was the short-lived live-action TV series from 1978-79. There were the numerous animated series beginning in 1967, and continuing periodically since. And, of course, there was the movie franchise, which started strong, but fell flat on it’s face, which resulted in a reboot. Having a comic book character starring in their own TV series or movies is nothing new, almost all of them have ventured there at some point. But, Spider-Man was the first hero on Broadway. It’s been interesting development for not only fan-boys, but also theater-goers. But ever since the announcement of the Spidey musical, the venture has been plagued by problem after problem, which makes us think that it’s cursed, just like Super-Man.
The saga from a simple comic to a major Broadway production began over seven years ago, when Chicago producer David Garfinkle acquired the stage rights for Spider-Man from Marvel. Besides having a piece of one of Marvel’s largest cash cows, Garfinkle and company assembled an impressive list of people to get involved. Julie Taymor was brought on broad as director, who previously found success with the Broadway adaptation of The Lion King. Bono and The Edge would compose the music. And after readings for the musical took place in 2007, some semi-well-known actors were hired, like Evan Rachel Wood and Alan Cumming. After all of the expectations, things took a turn for the worse.
The musical, now called Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, would see it’s debut delayed three times by early 2009 for unresolved creative decisions. There was also the little problem that Spidey was $25 million in debt. By December of 2010, the production suffered it’s fourth delay from January, 2011 to February, 2011. But the financial troubles and delays were the least of the musical’s concerns.
In early 2010, Evan Rachel Wood and Alan Cumming left due to the delays. As Spidey finally approached his long-awaited preview on November 14, 2010, it was again pushed back after some of the actors were injured during rehearsals. Once the musical actually held it’s previews, it was criticized by those in attendance. To add salt to the wounds, one it’s lead actresses, Natalie Mendoza, suffered a concussion during the first preview. She missed two weeks of work, and is now working out a way to leave the production completely. During the second preview on December 20, actor Christopher Tierney fell into an open pit. The show ended prematurely as he was taken to the hospital. He suffered “a hairline fracture in his skull, a broken scapula, a broken bone close to his elbow, four broken ribs, a bruised lung and three fractured vertebrae,” which naturally sent New York state in to investigate safety measures. Heck, even Bono wasn’t safe as he had to have emergency back surgery in the Spring of 2010, which resulted in U2 postponing their North American tour.
After all the rewrites, financial woes, and injuries to the cast, the $60 million Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark will hopefully open sometime in late February. However, with everything that’s gone wrong, will this mammoth of a musical actually come to light? Have all the kinks been worked out, which means it will run smoothly now? Or, is it just simply cursed? Only time will tell, but for everyone involved, mainly the actors, let’s hope so. But, if I were a betting man, I would make a wager that this thing will never make it’s money back.
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