So: Julie Taymor has been sidelined by the producers of “Spider Man.” Ousted? Yes. Gone altogether? Not quite. “Spider Man” remains her show, no matter what they do to it. First on the agenda: a shut down of two to three weeks so they can re-tool and give the cast a chance to rest. Certainly to be rethought: the so called Geek chorus of four kids who –as a framing device–narrate the show as if they were writing a comic book.
The shut down will happen. One source told me: “We’d rather spend the money and fix it so it plays a long time.”
Philip William McKinley and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa will come in to re-stage and re-write, respectively. (The NY Post got it all wrong on Wednesday.)
Also to be determined: what to do with the character of Arachne, the Spider woman who appeared in the first “Spider Man” comic book but has come to occupy too much of the musical. TV Carpio is great as Arachne, but her time will no doubt be cut as Arachne is reimagined as a villain and not the entirety of the show. The quick fix: pull her out of Act 1 altogether and make her the Act 2 antagonist. Get right into Peter Parker’s story in Act 1 and end the act with a clifhanger of the Green Goblin holding someone–Peter or Mary Jane–hostage. And for god’s sake, write a romance between Peter and Mary Jane with some humor.
Is Taymor’s situation her own fault? To some degree. but not all. Sources tell me that most of the “Spider Man” investors have never even seen the show. Instead of coming in and checking it out, they’ve depended on hearsay and gossip items. Also, Bono and The Edge are late arrivals to the scene. They say they’re adding maybe two new songs. But they may soon see they have more to do than just that. Must cut: the dancing shoe number. Must must must. Must add: either three or four tuneful new songs or — and I mean this– add “With Or Without You,” “Mysterious Ways,” and “Stay” from the U2 catalog to anchor the show. There is nothing wrong with this. Really.
One can only hope that after a cooling off period, Taymor, who is a genius, will return as part of the team and adapt to the changes. But “Spider Man” definitely needs its upcoming time out if it’s going to return in June.