Julie Taymor is not concerned about postponing the opening of “Spider Man: Turn off the Dark” from January 11 to February 7, 2011.
“We’re happy about it,” Taymor told me last night in an interview. And why not? Even in previews, as a work in progress, “Spider Man” is a hit. It’s playing at 98% capacity, taking in almost $1 million a week.
The creator of “The Lion King” on Broadway and the Oscar nominated movie “Frida” says that with the holidays and cast absences, there were only “17 hours left to work until January 11th. It wasn’t enough time.” The show is putting on 8 performances a week as they make changes. It’s a little like building a house while people are living in it.
On Wednesday night, Taymor installed part of a new ending to the $65 musical. It won’t all be in until next Wednesday, December 23rd.
“We just got Natalie Mendoza back as Arachne,” she said, after Mendoza’s concussion. “She was out 17 days. We can’t throw it all on her at once. We’re also training the cover for her understudy. And we’re getting [star] Reeve Carney‘s alternate ready. It takes time.”
Now that most of the flying is in place, Taymor says the focus is on improving the book. “Every day we make changes, and you can see some of them now. But changes in our show often involve computers, programming. It’s not like here’s a new line, say this tonight.”
Taymor is trying to stay away from the vitriol expressed by some in the press. At the same time, she wonders why her $65 million musical is getting more of it than say, a $150 million movie flop. There are plenty of those right now. Sixty five million dollars, for a movie, would be considered cheap by many studio heads.
“We’re only going to have about 67 previews,” Taymor said. “A real Cirque du Soleil show tries out for 18 months and has false starts.”
Taymor promises that even by next week, audiences will see the fruits of their labors: more flying at the end of the show, much clarifying of the story in the second act, and a new breathtaking Spider web cast by Arachne around Spider Man. “You’re going to see Arachne more as the villain of the second act,” Taymor said. “But we had to wait until Natalie came back.”
Also, Bono and Edge from U2 will be back shortly from their U2 tour. They’ll determine if new songs need to be written. But Taymor says they will not be using any existing U2 hits other than the fun poke at “Vertigo.” “It’s all new,” she insists. “This isn’t an adaptation of a movie, like most musicals these days. This is all totally original, from scratch. ”