Thu March 10, 2011

Broadway's Debut Of 'Spiderman' Delayed Again



And in New York, the most expensive Broadway show ever just got more expensive. "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" hasn't even opened yet, but it's been in the news for months for its astronomical cost, its reoccurring delays and injuries among cast members. The musical was supposed to open later this month, but it's delayed yet again.

We called reporter Jeff Lunden in New York City to find out what the latest is on Broadway's "Spider-Man" saga.

And Jeff, first, why the delay, and what is the new opening date?

JEFF LUNDEN: Well, the new opening date has not actually been determined. A press release came out, and it's going to be some time in the summer. But the delay is because the show has to get more work done on it, and the producers determined that that was what was necessary.

MONTAGNE: And for those who haven't been following it, just a brief thumbnail of the injuries, the delays and the costs.

LUNDEN: Sure. Well, the musical has reportedly cost $65 million, which is more than twice what "Shrek the Musical" cost when it came out a few years ago, and that was the most expensive musical when it came out, by far. But now, with all the changes the producers are talking about, that price tag is sure to go up by a factor of several million dollars.

The biggest news here is that co-author and director Julie Taymor, who's probably best known as the director of Disney's mega-hit "The Lion King," is out. She's been very much the creative heart of the show. Now, officially the producer statement says she doesn't have time to work on the show 24/7, but I spoke to someone close to the production who says that the songwriters - Bono and The Edge from U2 - and the producers wanted to make changes to the show, and Taymor either didn't want to or couldn't.

MONTAGNE: One thing, though: People have been seeing this play in previews for a long time, paying quite a lot of money for tickets. Are they enjoying the show?

LUNDEN: Well, audiences seem to be enjoying it. And yes, you're right. There have been over 100 previews now, which is also a Broadway record. And they've been paying full price, anywhere from $75 to $275 for a show that's still, you know, a work in progress.

Most of the major critics actually showed up on February 7th, which was one of the now six announced opening dates, and that's when the Web started to unravel for Taymor. Critics panned it, but it seems like there's been sort of a curiosity factor that has kept audiences pouring into the theater. It might've been a morbid curiosity, because there were all sorts of episodes where the show had to stop when cast members got stuck in the air, and there were four injuries to actors. One broke a foot, another fractured his wrists - that was during rehearsals.

But at the very first performance, one of the lead actresses got a concussion backstage. And in the most serious accident, Christopher Tierney, one of the Spider-Man stunt doubles, fell 30 feet from a platform and had to undergo surgery for multiple fractures.

MONTAGNE: Right. Well, Jeff, I get the distinct impression of possibly more acts to come on "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." Thanks very much.

LUNDEN: Okay. Thank you, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Jeff Lunden, speaking to us from New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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