The embattled Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is considering a complete overhaul of the show … an overhaul that might result in bringing in an entirely new creative team … and might force the exit of director Julie Taymor. I’m not sure if Taymor‘s termination from the show will be enough to save the behemoth of a musical spectacle but it would surely be a huge embarrassment for the usually esteemed director.
The producers of Broadway’s “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” were negotiating on Monday with their director, Julie Taymor, for her to work with a newly expanded creative team to fix the critically derided $65 million musical or possibly leave the show, according to people who work on “Spider-Man” or have been briefed on the negotiations. The artistic direction ahead for “Spider-Man” — twice as expensive as any show in Broadway history — involves more decisions than just Ms. Taymor’s future, according to these people, who spoke anonymously because the producers have insisted that no information be disclosed about the talks. The producers and Ms. Taymor and her co-creators, Bono and the Edge of U2, are also discussing how extensively to overhaul the script and music; how many outside consultants should be hired, and who; and when to open the show, which set a record at its Sunday matinee for the most preview performances ever, its 98th. Ken Sunshine, one of the spokesmen for the production, said in response to several questions on Monday night: “We are not commenting on speculation.” The opening night for “Spider-Man” has already been delayed five times; the current opening date, March 15, seems all but certain to fall, since by Monday night theater critics had not been invited to review it (normally invitations are sent about two weeks before). All of the people who spoke about the negotiations said that the producers now viewed a March 15 opening as unlikely. Many critics, in fact, issued reviews after the previously scheduled opening night of Feb. 7. Ben Brantley, the chief theater critic of The New York Times, wrote that “Spider-Man” may “rank among the worst” musicals in history. For all the decisions to be made, the role of Ms. Taymor is the most freighted one … The people who spoke about the negotiations said that, throughout Monday, they were not sure if Ms. Taymor would stay or go as director. One person briefed on the negotiations said that Bono, who has been away for much of the show’s preview period, had taken a direct role in the talks. What is certain, the people said, was that the producers saw the potential for major changes to the musical, which they hope to mount for years in productions around the world, and that Ms. Taymor either needed to accept help in making those changes or face a different outcome, potentially her exit from the show. The names of multiple directors, choreographers and playwrights have been ricocheting around the Broadway community for days now. It was not clear on Monday who would be hired. By turns frustrated and determined, exhausted and engaged, Ms. Taymor has also alternated between acknowledging that the production had serious artistic flaws and insisting that she have more of a chance to improve it, the people who spoke in interviews said … Of “Spider-Man,” she said in her speech: “Anyone who creates knows — when it’s not quite there. Where it hasn’t quite become the phoenix or the burnt char. And I am right there.”As word of the escalating price tag of this show started to be reported, it seemed to me that Julie Taymor had bitten off more than she can chew. As news continued to spread of all the technical problems that have hindered the show from opening, it seemed certain to me that she deffo had bitten off more than she can chew. If she cannot work with a new creative team for the success of the show, we’ll know for sure how much she truly cares about the production. To be honest, I’ve never felt a passionate love from her about the show. She has defended it, yes, but I never believed that she loved it. I’m terribly curious to find out if she will stay with Spider-Man or if she will jump ship. Any guesses which way she might go?