“Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” — the most expensive musical in Broadway history — finally had its first public performance Sunday. This first musical from Bono and the Edge of U2 is being brought to the stage by Tony-winning director Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”). However, her expansive vision has caused myriad technical problems with reports that several of the actors, including leading man Reeve Carney, were left hanging from the rafters Sunday as the flying harnesses jammed.
Such glitches are mere bumps on the long road to the rialto for “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” The U2 songsmiths, who have won a staggering 22 Grammys, penned the tunes almost a decade ago but it has taken this long to go from page to stage. After working with Taymor on the film “Across the Universe” in 2006, Bono knew he had found the right person to shepherd the show. Back in 1997, she transformed the Disney animated film “The Lion King” into a dazzling stage musical that is still running on Broadway. Thatshow won six 1998 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and Taymor became the first woman to win for directing a musical.
Delays due to financing issues meant that Golden Globe nominee Evan Rachel Wood (“Thirteen”) and Tony champ Alan Cumming (“Cabaret”) had to bow out of playing the love interest and villain. Their replacements — Tony nominee Jennifer Damiano (“Next to Normal”) as Mary Jane Watson and Broadway vet Patrick Page as Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin. However, indie musician Carney remained committed to making his legit debut as the webbed crusader.
During the prolonged rehearsal period, two actors sustained serious injury practicing the flying sequences; one broke both wrists, the other both ankles. The New York State Department of Labor withheld its required approval for several weeks while investigating, thus necessitating another delay before previews could begin. Even with that extra time, the show never had a dress rehearsal; indeed, the finale was still in flux on Sunday. Taymor and company have till the official opening on Jan. 11 to right the wrongs.
Photo: The Edge, Julie Taymor, Bono (O+M)