‘Spider-Man’ May ‘Turn Off’ Director Julie Taymor
Following months of comprehensive coverage of every delay, financial setback, woeful critical review and cast-maiming, it is with an overwhelming sense of inevitability that we must inform you that Julie Taymor, the director of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, is presently in discussions with producers that may conclude with her ejection from the endlessly screwed up Broadway musical that still has yet to officially open.The incredibly sad yet compellingly hilarious saga of Turn Off the Dark began all the way back in 2002, when it was announced that there would be a Spider-Man musical conceived and composed by fallen dadrock icons Bono and The Edge of U2, sealing the project’s terrible fate forevermore. There is a Simarillion’s worth of back-story and minutiae, but the Lord of the Rings phase of the Spidey musical began last September when we heard for the first time a song from the production. Performed by lead actor Reeve Carney on Good Morning America, “Boy Falls From the Sky” was just as senseless as we all expected it to be, but fell short of being actually offensive.
Things became irretrievably vulgar soon after, though, when the production released an unforgettably ghastly series of promotional photos by Annie Leibovitz, the world’s most famous photographer. Naturally, they prompted an inspired response from Chris Sims.
Further delays accrued as more cast and crew members were injured in accidents, complications and general incompetence with respect to the musical’s stunt apparatuses. But the coup de grace was the brutal maiming of Spider-Man stunt player Christopher Tierney, who took an approximately 30-foot fall into the orchestra pit of the Foxwood Theatre in New York City simply because nobody connected his harness to anything. Tierney suffered four broken ribs, three fractured vertebrae, a fractured scapula, a fractured elbow, and a fracture to the back of his skull. The situation appeared to lead to the escape of actress Natalie Mendoza, who herself was concussed by stunt rigging during a preview performance, as well as outcry from the theatre community. Consequently, the actors’ union finally shut down Turn Off the Dark, albeit temporarily.
Of course, blood and carnage wasn’t limited to the stage floor — there was plenty to be found in the review pages as well. Our own Brian Childs didn’t have many kind things to say about Turn Off the Dark, an New York Times critic Ben Brantley said the production may “rank among the worst” musicals of all time.
Presently, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is in danger of missing its next-Tuesday opening date, which is just the latest in a series of five postponements . According to The New York Times, comics writer and playwright Robert Aquirre-Sacasa (Marvel’s The Stand) has met with producers about reworking the musical’s story, and that talks continue about expanding the creative team even further. Such a development may necessitate the termination of Julie Taymor, the Lion King stage visionary whose employment of heretofore unseen acrobatics and other stage stunts have — when they’ve worked — garnered the most positive remarks from everyone who’s seen the Spider-Man show. The New York Times sources suggest that Taymor could keep her job if she’s willing to work with new team members and make major creative changes to the production.