The bad news for the most beleaguered show ever to arrive on Broadway, “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” just got much worse, as producers announced plans to close the the production down for two to three weeks in order to give it a major creative overhaul and a new opening date in the early summer.
The musical, composed by U2’s Bono and The Edge, has burned through $65 million, making it the most expensive production ever mounted on Broadway. But it has been mauled by critics, beset with injuries to cast members, and hounded by unrelenting gossip about its director and creative force, “The Lion King’s” Julie Taymor, who on Monday was said to be possibly leaving the production if she didn’t agree to make major changes to the show.
Today, “The New York Times” reported that the show will undergo a “significant overhaul,” and a two to three week break to allow for current cast members to take a break. During this time new rehearsals will also be conducted.
The show was due to open on March 15 after a series of delayed openings that stretch back to November. The show, as of yesterday, played 99 preview performances, another Broadway record producers would undoubtedly like to give back, though the show has been among the highest-grossing on Broadway since November, taking in well over $1 million a week.
The producers, and Bono and The Edge, are continuing negotiations with Taymor to see if she would work with a new creative team in attempts to fix the musical, according to “The Times,” which also reported that Bono is taking a lead role in the re-structuring of the musical. Bono and Edge have been absent for most of the preview period due to U2 touring commitments.
The show has received almost universally bad reviews, with Ben Brantley, the chief theater critic of “The Times,” saying that “Spider-Man” may “rank among the worst” musicals in history.
Speculation has intensified that Taymor, who recruited by Bono and the Edge in 2002, may be cut from the production.
Sources told “The New York Times” that as Monday, they were not sure if the Tony Award winning director would stay or go. They added that the producers saw the potential for major change within the production, which they hope will have a long life as a touring production around the world, once they are satisfied with the New York product.
“The Times” reported that producers have reached out to two noted Broadway directors, Christopher Ashley from “Memphis” and Philip William McKinley of “The Boy from Oz,” about possibly taking on a role with “Spider-Man.”
Speaking about the show last Wednesday, Taymor addressed over 1,000 people at the Ted 2011 conference. “Anyone who creates knows — when it’s not quite there. Where it hasn’t quite become the phoenix or the burnt char. And I am right there,” said the Tony Award winner.