Spider-Man on Broadway: A superhero belly-flops in previews

After a year of delays, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was previewed last Sunday, but what unfolded was a series of mishaps.

“Not even Spider-Man himself” could avert disaster when theatergoers got a first look at his pricey new Broadway show, said Michael Riedel in the New York Post. After a year of delays, the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark finally made it to previews last Sunday. But the most expensive production in Broadway’s history—a collaboration between Lion King director Julie Taymor and U2’s Bono and the Edge—arrived with all the markings of an “epic flop.” For nearly three and a half hours, the $65 million show unfolded as a series of mishaps. On five occasions, it had to be stopped completely. “At various points, overhead stage wires dropped onto the audience, scenery appeared onstage missing pieces, and the show’s star himself was left swaying helplessly” 10 feet over the crowd—trapped in his aerial harness while crew members grabbed at his flailing limbs. Adding insult to (near) injury, theatergoers complained about “a dull score and a baffling script.”

“Rarely is the very first public run-through of a new musical perfect,” said Patrick Healy in The New York Times. Still, it’s hard to imagine things going much worse for this already plagued show. At the same hour television viewers across America were watching Taymor and Bono hype their creation on Sunday’s 60 Minutes, the audience of 1,900 in New York was gaping at an actress in an eight-legged costume who was dangling helplessly overhead for nearly six minutes. “I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I feel like a guinea pig today,” shouted one audience member; many had paid close to $300 per seat. After the performance, several ticketbuyers said they would warn their friends off the show “until improvements were made.”

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