So when Julie Taymor left the show (April 2011) they brought in a few people to reshape the production. One key member was Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa for script rewrite. You may remember that Aguirre-Sacasa was the person responsible for rewriting the Superman musical in Dallas.
I was in NYC in June and saw the production again (bringing some friend who had not seen it before). I had mix-feelings about the rewrite. On one hand, the story was much more straightforward – no Geek Chorus opening the show, and the part of Arachne (who basically was the 3rd lead originally) pretty much cut back to one to 2 songs. I got the impression that the producers told the new production team to work with what they had but NOT to spend money on new characters, new songs, new effects or new sets – and they did that but cutting a lot of the clutter from the script. But something was missing. It was like listening to an orchestra but all the string instrument players were told to go home. You can still hear the music but something is missing. My friend seemed to enjoy it though (none of them “theater” people).
Flash forward to June 2013. I was in NYC again. A friend from New Jersey joined me and we took advantage of the discount booth at Time Square to see shows. On our last night we got discount tickets in the 3rd row on the side. Bare in mind that for quite a while Spider-man was selling out even with the weak reviews but sales must have started to get soft (hence the discounted tickets). Sitting so close I could focus on the performances rather than the spectacle.
To be honest, I really enjoyed the show from this time around. Reeve Carney as Peter Parker was terrific both acting and vocals, as was Jennifer Damiano as Gwen. And the biggest surprise to me was the character of Norman Osborne (aka Green Goblin), He still had a southern accent and the over-the-top costume but up close, I really liked his performance. I’m not sure if it was being closer or because a new actor was in the role - Robert Cuccioli.
If you’re curious about the 2 versions, Wikipedia has a description of the storyline before and after the rewrite.
Broadway’s less than spectacular Spriderman-man “Spider-Man Turn of the Dark” is closing on in January after a 3 year run (including extended previews and rewrites). The musical may be one of the most notorious on Broadway with many cast members being injured, a $65 million price tag, and the “firing” of director Julie Taymor before the shows official opening. I saw the production 3 times.
The first time was in January 2011 when it was still in previews (before Taymor was fired). It had already been in previews for a while and even I could tell the show was seriously flawed. It was by people who didn’t understand comics and were presenting something they “thought” comic book fans would like - in 1975. And Taymor who probably never read a comic before in her life being received credit for co-writing the script.
The show opened with 4 comic book geeks (the Geek Chorus) riffing on what they thought would be the “ultimate Spider-Man” should be like. The girl geek tell of the myth of Arachne (we see a visually stunning opening number). The rest of the 1st act is basically the plot of the second Spider-Man movie but switching Doc Oc for a Green Goblin with a heavy southern accent (remember Oc’s wife dying?). The Green Goblin BTW looked like a drag queen green Power Ranger. THEN in act two we find out act one was a dream and the real villain was the jealous Greek Arachne who opened the show.
The title of the show never made sense (Turn off the Dark?!?) and to remind you it was a rock musical, two guitarist stood to the left of the stage playing their guitars. But why? In the preview the complicated mechanics of the flying apparatus got stuck 3 times and the show had to stop while stage hands fixed it. The previews had been running for 3 months at this point. I liked some if the songs and there were some imaginative stage pieces (that Taymor is known for). But elsewhere in the show was clunky - reminders that the production team was out of touch (like giant cutouts of “pow” and “bang” right out of the Adam West Batman series).
BUT the preview audience loved it and I was glad I saw it just for the spectacle.
On my return home I flew via Dallas, where a local theater was doing a revival of the 1960s musical “It’s a bird, it’s - plane, it’s Superman” with a new script by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. The production was done on a much smaller scale but it was fun! Lots of money doesn’t necessarily buy you a better production. I’ve wished this Superman would make his way to Broadway!
After seeing the less than spectacular Spider-Man I made a point had visiting NYC after the official opening - after Taymor left and the script was rewritten. More about that later.
David Bowie appeared on Broadway in the “Elephant Man” in 1980.