Bono and the Edge of U2 certainly don’t have the luck of the Irish when it comes to their much-delayed first Broadway show, a musical adaptation of the Spider-Man comic book. “Turn Off the Dark” has announced another postponement of opening night — this time till Jan. 11 — as it awaits approval from the New York State Department of Labor.
The show is in rehearsals and two actors have already been injured performing stunts. The tuner was supposed to open last February but as the budget escalated to a record $60 million, producers played musical chairs.
While indie musician Reeve Carney is still set to make his Broadway debut as the webbed crusader, the delay 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 of the piece.
The U2 songsmiths, who have won a staggering 22 Grammys, are in capable hands with visionary director Julie Taymor. Back in 1997, she transformed the Disney animated film “The Lion King” into a dazzling stage musical that is still running on Broadway. The show won six 1998 Tony Awards, including best musical, and Taymor became the first woman to win for directing a musical. However, Elton John and Tim Rice — who won the 1994 Oscar for the film’s love song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” — lost the score award to Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (“Ragtime”). They did win that race two years later for “Aida,” which ran for four years. However, John’s next musical, “Lestat” — which reunited him with long-time lyricist Bernie Taupin — lasted only four weeks in 2006. Two years ago, John returned with the smash hit “Billy Elliot,” which swept the Tonys, including a win for best musical. However, John and his collaborator Lee Hall were edged out for best score by “Next to Normal” composer Tom Kitt and lyricis Brian Yorkey.
When other popular musicmakers have come to Broadway with new or improved works, they have usually landed at least a Tony Award nomination. For 1993’s “Tommy,” Pete Townshend tied with Broadway veterans John Kander and Fred Ebb (“The Kiss of the Spiderwoman”) for the score award. Paul Simon also competed for that 1998 score award with lyricist Derek Walcott for the critically dismissed “The Capeman.” In 2002, Harry Connick, Jr. was nominated for “Thou Shalt Not” but lost to Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan, who came up with additional tunes for best musical champ “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Though “Taboo” was a 2004 flop, Boy George did contend for his score but lost to Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, who wrote the songs for best musical winner “Avenue Q.” Two seasons ago, singer-songwriter Stew lost the score award to Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote and starred in best musical winner “In the Heights” but won the best book award for “Passing Strange.”
However, the road to success on Broadway is littered with flops based on hit song catalogs. The success of “Jersey Boys” — a musical biography told through the songs of the Four Seasons that swept the 2006 Tony Awards — spawned a trio of misfires: “All Shook Up” (using the music of Elvis Presley), “Good Vibrations” (Beach Boys) and “Imagine” (John Lennon). Even acclaimed director-choreographer Twyla Tharp, who scored a hit in 2003 with “Movin’ Out” — a dance musical set to the songs of Billy Joel — flopped with her 2006 follow-up “The Times They Are A-Changin,’ ” based on the music of Bob Dylan.
Image: “Turn Off the Dark” logo (Foxwood Theater)