Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is the early favorite for Biggest Train Wreck of 2011, as well as the current titleholder for Most Expensive Broadway Show Ever, but with director Julie Taymor now out of the picture, this weekend marks your last chance to see the show in all its critically eviscerated glory. The musical, featuring tunes by U2's Bono and the Edge, will go back to the drawing board next week, and when it returns for preview performances starting May 12th, those who saw both versions will spot some huge changes.
For starters, according to the New York Times' Arts Beat, the classic Spidey foe Green Goblin will get a stay of execution and his death will no longer happen at the end of Act I. Green Goblin will play a larger role, with the bulk of his second act stage time coming at the expense of the Taymor-created villain Arachne. As the musical gets un-Taymored, her fingerprints on the show, like the existence of Arachne and the soon-to-be-axed Geek Chorus, will take a backseat to the innovations brought in by the new creative team.
It's also assumed that Bono and the Edge will also beef up the songs they wrote for the musical so that it's more like Achtung Baby (an album fans actually want to listen to) and less like No Line on the Horizon (it's been over two years, you can stop pretending to like this album now). U2 are a main selling point for Broadway goers in this equation, and their reputation is also on the line, so they'll be expected to step up their game even with the exit of their friend Taymor.
Can Spider-Man rebound from its infamously troubled, injury-plagued start and become a Broadway show that will pack houses year after year (with a budget of $70 million and climbing, it needs to)? Whenever a film critic prefaces a review with talk of "rewrites" and "reshoots" and "postponed release dates," it's usually just ominous fodder before they hand it one or two stars. Very rarely do rewrites and reshoots result in an Oscar winner; usually it just saves a bad movie from being a worse film. This next month that Spider-Man is sidelined will be crucial, as the musical needs lots of work and not just simple garnishing to make it great, or at least not terrible.
- Julie Taymor