If you were like me at 13 years old, you found yourself reading through old Spider-Man comics, wishing that some visionary stagesmith would turn the web-slinging adventures of Peter Parker into a multi-million dollar, Broadway rock opera, complete with a sure-to-be mediocre soundtrack by a once awesome band, now relegated to the desolate halls of "Adult Contemporary" radio.
And, if you were like me at 13, you were crushed by disappointment when the best the pop-culture musical gods had to offer was a big budget, visual mind-fuck version of The Lion King.
A recent announcement, however, has the collective Spidey senses of the theater-going, comic-loving population tingling. The long awaited Broadway adaptation, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, complete with U2 composed score, will finally be gracing the stage of the Foxwoods Theater (formerly Hilton Theater) this December.
Back in 2005, word started to seep out from the depths of 42nd Street that Marvel Comics had granted the Spider-Man stage rights to Tony Adams, the storied producer of six of the Peter Sellers-starring Pink Panther films, as well as the Broadway bomb Victor/Victoria.
The events that followed were the stuff of New York legend. Julie Taymor, best known for her work on the aforementioned The Lion King musical, stepped up to direct. She wrote the show's book as well, with help from playwright Glen Berger. Their initial ideas included a new character named Arachne, who -- according to the casting call -- is "a beautiful, boastful young woman turned into a spider for her hubris and lack of respect for the gods. She subsequently appears to Peter Parker and the audience as in turn a powerful spider-woman who comes from another time to inspire Peter; an otherworldly lover; a bride; a terrifying (and sexy) dark goddess of vengeance; a dance partner in a charged and violent spiders dance of death; and, finally, a lonely, fragile young woman." Let's just hope Arachne ended up on the cutting room floor.
Meanwhile, U2’s Bono and the Edge signed on to compose the score and pen the lyrics (I suppose "Vertigo" would suit a hero who spends his time suspended high above the city, no?).
However, after the untimely death of Adams in October 2005, production was handed over to his business partner and lawyer, David Garfinkle. That's when shit hit the fan. It turns out, Julie Taymor is a mad genius who causes anything she touches to hemorrhage cash. Granted, said financial diarrhea always yields awe inspiring results, but, under the inexperienced hand of Garfinkle, Taymor’s relentless budget-busting put the Spider-Man project in the hole somewhere to the tune of, oh, $25 million. This was in 2009.
Now, with the production under new management, things are looking up. The show has not only generated a considerable amount of speculative hype, but it has managed to earn the title of most expensive show in Broadway history. How expensive? Well, $52 million expensive (look for a not-to-be-outdone James Cameron pitching Avatar the Musical sometime soon. Can you get any more 3D than real life? He'll find a way).
Peter Parker will be played by the relatively unknown Reeve Carney. His previous work includes the film Snow Falling on Cedars and his band, Carney. The press package for Carney’s debut album, Mr. Green Volume 1 [Interscope], has been sitting on my desk for weeks now, menacingly glaring at me, promising nothing but post-grunge, radio-friendly mediocrity and ill-contrived classic rock tropes. Actually, it’s probably not that bad (listen to it before forming an opinion? Ha! Integrity is sooo lame), but one can’t really expect to be taken seriously when your publicity photo looks like this (Reeve is the one in the striped pants):
Originally, the roles of Mary Jane and the Green Goblin were supposed to be played by Evan Rachel Wood and Alan Cummings, respectively. Both dropped out due to scheduling conflicts, which, in this situation, sounds a lot like "fear of not getting paid." Tony nominee Jennifer Damiano will be filling in for Wood, and Broadway veteran Patrick Page will be donning the Green Goblin suit.
Barring any more major financial meltdowns, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark tickets should go on sale in mid-September.
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