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Julie Taymor leaving Spider-Man musical


Musical's claims to legitimacy depart, one by one...

Departing 'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark' director Julie Taymor with U2

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has been plagued from the start. Decried as ill-conceived, hackneyed, and a radical (and unneccessary) departure from source material beloved by the very people that should have been the core audience, there were some points of interest. An original score by U2's Bono and the Edge...promising. But most promising was the fact that the production would be directed by Julie Taymor: Oscar-nominated director of Frida and The Tempest, Taymor received both Laurence Olivier and Tony awards for her fantastic (and fantastical) work as a director and costume designer for the stage adaptation of The Lion King.

Today, TV news channel NY1 reports that sources close to Taymor have confirmed she will leave the production. The show was supposed to have its debut performance next Tuesday (delayed from the original scheduled debut in January), but may be delayed again as well, perhaps until as late as June. The performances which have been seen thus far have been previews. Preview performances of Broadway shows were intended to give the actors and crew time to work out the kinks in production, for a couple of weeks, prior to the show's official debut. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark recently sold tickets to its record-breaking 100th preview performance. Substantiating the rumor that the show's debut will be delayed again is the fact that critics have yet to see invitations to the official premiere, scheduled to be less than a week away.

'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark'Reasons for the show's continuing delay of the official debut could be:

November 2010: Natalie Mendoza (Hotel Babylon) suffers a concussion at the first preview.

December 20, 2010: Spidey stunt double Christopher Tierney falls 30 feet from the stage, due to a cable that wasn't connected properly. He suffers broken ribs, internal injuries, and undergoes back surgery. Video of the accident captured by an audience member's phone is played incessantly on TV and the net over the next six weeks.

March 5, 2011: Production is cited for three separate OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health) violations, totaling $12,600 in fines. This is a tiny proportion of the 1.2 million per week that the preview showings are reportedly garnering, but it generates a ton of negative publicity.

Or, the debut may have been delayed by the continued critical lambasting of the show itself. Last month, New York Magazine reported that a new writer has been brought in to rewrite Taymor's book. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa actually wrote some Spidey for Marvel, in addition to writing for the show Big Love, and hopefully will have a good influence on a story described as 'baffling'. Taymor's absence as director will be difficult - but perhaps a fresh perspective on story, and safety, will bring Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark a better chance in the future.

See also:

Early critics lambast Spider-Man musical

Pull the plug on Spider-Man's Broadway musical

Spider-Man musical preview full of bugs


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