After nearly four months of critically planned performances and nine years of rigorous preparation, the Broadway rock musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” has lost its director Julie Taymor.
The Tony-winning director officially left the production due to creative differences with the show’s longtime co-creators/lyricists U2’s Bono (The Edge) and has been replaced by a new director.
Even after 50 years of being one of the superhero world’s most indelible cultural icons and succeeding in spanning all entertainment forms due to uncountable fans, it appears that even Spider-Man isn’t above just plain bad luck.
“Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” the first attempt at adapting the famous Marvel superhero to the stage, is the most expensive musical ever to hit Broadway.
Unfortunately, according to Variety, the rock musical is quickly becoming one of the biggest critical flops theater has ever seen.
The first performance occurred on Nov. 28 and was met with universal derision from the press due to numerous performance halts, multiple technological faults and nonsensical storytelling. These issues with the production continued with growing frequency and severity throughout the 101 disastrous preview performances.
Taymor, the first female musical director to win a Tony Award (the theater equivalent of an Oscar), had an epic retelling of Spider-Man which would have dealt with profound philosophical concepts and an expansive character study.
Taymor had similarly lofty ambitions in her 1996 Broadway musical for “The Lion King,” where her innovative staging earned her two Tony Awards and critical acclaim.
“She made “The Lion King” different than what we’ve seen before and there was an ecstatic audience for that,” said Karen Gygli, a theater professor in the Tim Russert Department of Communications and Theatre Arts at John Carroll. “There might have been quite an audience for this show, as well. But we’ll never know just how incredible her vision is and that’s a very sad thing.”
According to critics, the biggest unamended problem of the show is how absurd the second act continues to be. When the producers approached Taymor on the subject, she refused to allow the necessary changes to her vision that would have fixed the problems.
“What has happened is sad for Julie [Taymor], but her production just wasn’t matching what the producers wanted,” Gygli said. “A director change is probably good [for the production] because they didn’t share the same view. Since the producers are calling in a script doctor and a new director, it is becoming much more likely that Julie’s original vision will be [heavily] edited.”
Taymor’s replacement is Philip William McKinley, who has directed several successful theater works which includes Hugh Jackman’s acclaimed musical “The Boy from Oz.”
Gygli expects McKinley to deliver an efficient, albeit inspired, show that caters to the average audience. “Julie’s show was a very complex view of Spider-Man,” she said. “McKinley could either find some interesting things to say or just give us a run of the mill story. He’ll most likely give fans exactly what they’re expecting.”
Gygli says we can’t tell what type of show we’re going to get at this point. “I guess we’ll just have to wait until [the June release],” she said.