The continued sniping at “Spider Man: Turn off the Dark” by the New York Post has turned into a festival of untruths. The Post reported that “Spider Man” creator Julie Taymor was getting either a co-director and script doctor or both. It’s just not true. But it’s part of the Post’s campaign to kill “Spider Man,” something they can’t seem to do. Box office is booming, with “Spider Man” the number 2 show on Broadway, right behind “Wicked.” Everyone wants to see it. People come out humming songs like “Say Now,” “Rise Above,” and “Boy Falls from the Sky.”
I spoke to Julie Taymor this morning. She was working on some changes with her own co-writer, Glenn Berger. She told me she’s had lots of input about changes from friends and colleagues. “No one has been hired or is being hired,” Taymor said. “The director they mentioned is a friend of Michael Cohl’s. I’m sure he asked his opinion. When a show’s in previews, everyone gives their opinion. Try this, that. And the other guy, I’ve never even heard of him.”
Indeed, the Post chose two very obscure names as possible helpers for Taymor. As one observer put it, “If they’d said Mike Nichols or Jerry Zaks or someone big it would have made sense. But who are those people? No one’s heard of them.”
There’s no doubt that Taymor is under terrific pressure. Three weeks away from her official opening, she’s already had two dozen or so mixed to negative early reviews. The theater critics felt snubbed by the show and were clearly out to get her. The public clearly does not care. As I watched Cirque du Soleil’s “Love” show over the weekend, I kept thinking how amazing it was that Taymor was trying to pull off something similar in a Broadway house. If “Turn off the Dark” had opened in Montreal with Cirque du Soleil, it would hailed over and over.
Interestingly, the “Love” show operates on the same kind of pulleys for flying as “Spider Man.” In Saturday’s show, there were more than a few times when you could hear the aerialists landing hard, wires crunching, etc. In one sequence, acrobats bounce off trampolines and nets onto an English telephone booth. Sometimes they miss. They’re human. So are the people from “Spider Man.”