The birth of 'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark' on Broadway this past year was painful to say the very least. The show, with music by Bono and the Edge and words and direction by Julie Taymor – at least until she was ousted March – delayed its opening several times to deal with technical problems, major injuries suffered on set by cast members, and issues with the telling of the story itself.
It didn’t take long for the $75 million-plus show to become a national punchline, and critics basically pounced when it finally had its official opening in June, some seven months after opening for previews.
It’s amazing that Taymor, the Tony Award-winning creative force behind /The Lion King,' is still standing given the particular vitriol that was aimed in her direction not only by the critics but by those involved in the show itself, including, at the end, Bono and The Edge.
But standing Taymor definitely is, and she’s finally opened up about the 'Spider-Man' debacle in an interview with the new issue of Esquire magazine.
She spoke about the nine years she’d poured her heart into the show and said, not surprisingly, that she’d likely would never have gotten involved if she could have envisaged how it would all turn out.
"I don't think I would want to go through this again ... not with this group of people. Not with these producers,” she said.
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Though she’s not out and out critical of Bono and the Edge, the piece makes perfectly clear that there’s some lingering bad blood. Bono and Edge were often on tour or recording with U2 so they weren’t in New York much of the time as the show was being created.
When Esquire writer Richard Dorment asked Taymor about Bono’s interview with The New York Times in June in which he said he had never “loved” Taymor’s version of the show, she declined comment, “but the look on her face – annoyed and hurt – doesn’t,” Dorment wrote.
Taymor was also none too pleased at being described as “overwrought” and “exhausted” by the Edge in the same interview.
"There's no doubt by the end of February, when I felt all of this stuff happening, that I was exhausted by that, but not by the show and not by the inspiration that I was getting from the actors," she says.
"What was exhausting was the fact that the producers were absent... Those people weren't there, so how does Bono know? I'm sorry."
Taymor attended the show’s opening in June along with the likes of Bono’s pal President Clinton, Cindy Crawford, Robert De Niro and a host of others.
"It was a last-minute decision (to go). I got letters from a lot of actors, and Bono had wanted me to come, so I went. I applauded all of the people I worked with, and I think people were happy to see me there,” she says.
The show got a new script and a new ending after she left the production, so what does she think of the finished product?
"I think the show is what it is, and we'll see if it lasts. I would like it to last so I get paid,” she replied.
Taymor is suing the producers of the show, which is playing to packed houses at Foxwoods Theatre, for royalties and salary. It will take years and years to turn a penny in profit given that 'Spider-Man' is far and away the most expensive musical ever produced on Broadway.
Here is a ‘60 Minutes’ feature on the Broadway ‘Spider Man’ production: