News continues to get worse for Broadway's "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" musical: The show featuring music by U2's Bono and the Edge shut down briefly after stunt man Christopher Tierney's accident last week, then resumed preview performances incident-free, but now the New York Times reports that actress Natalie Mendoza (above, left), who plays a pivotal role as the villain Arachne in the show's second act, is leaving "Spider-Man" just a month and a half before its February 7th opening. Mendoza's Arachne sings on six songs throughout the musical, so this is a major loss so close to premiere night.
Mendoza's exit doesn't come as a complete surprise: The actress suffered a concussion during one of the show's gravity-defying wire stunts at the very first preview performance, and only recently returned to the cast. She told fans she's still experiencing post-concussion syndrome and taking a few medications. Mendoza was also hit hard by Tierney's 20-foot free fall into the orchestra pit, writing on her Twitter, "Please pray with me for my friend Chris, my superhero who quietly inspires me everyday with his spirit. A light in my heart went dim tonight." Mendoza didn't take part in any preview performances following Tierney's accident, leaving the role of Arachne to her understudies.
According to the Times, Mendoza has been negotiating her exit agreement with producers for several days, a contract that will probably feature a non-disclosure clause preventing Mendoza from discussing the beleaguered musical and her reasons for leaving the production. Mendoza is the first cast member to resign from "Spider-Man" over safety concerns; two of the marquee talents originally cast in the show, Evan Rachel Wood (as Mary Jane Watson) and Alan Cumming (as Green Goblin), both exited well before the musical's previews began, when the $65 million production was shut down earlier this summer due to financial troubles.
While the cast's concerns over their safety concerns have led to a major venting session with director Julie Taymor and a ton of bad press, at least the Arachne understudy's (above, right) Christmas wish came true -- we think.
[Photo: Marc Stamas/WireImage.com]
- Natalie Mendoza