“Spider Man: Turn off the Dark” finally opens–yes, opens– on June 14th after a wild winter and spring of previews, the sidelining of creator Julie Taymor, and a three week shutdown to retool the show’s story. Now, as the $70 million-plus musical– infamous for its performers getting hurt –prepares to reveal itself, it turns out that the new “Spider Man” is a lot like the old one, just polished up to make better sense.
I ran into producer Michael Cohl having dinner last night at the very hot as a pistol (and loud!) Minetta Tavern in Greenwich Village, where he was taking a few minutes off. Cohl told me the show is being “locked” in a couple of days, meaning all the changes will be final. And guess what? Julie Taymor’s going to get a surprise. There’s just as much of her work in the show as there was to start with, only it’s been rearranged. Taymor’s amazing set piece of Arachne, the Spider-woman, weaving her web in mid air now opens the show. Arachne, who was Taymor’s creation and vision, now serves as a guiding light for Spidey/Peter Parker as the show progresses. Gone, of course, is the “geek chorus” of four graffiti spraying teenagers who tried to explain the show. The way Cohl and company have worked, no explanations are needed.
Bono and The Edge have added just one song, Cohl says, called “A Freak Like Me.” And, just as I suggested in this space several times over the last few months, there are now snippets of U2 hits woven into the show. “Spider Man,” which is playing at 94% capacity in its third week back, and should do even better once it’s opened and families are flocking in for summer vacation.
One more thing: Cohl told me that once the show is settled in, the plan is not to go to Las Vegas first, as many had thought. We’ll have to see which city is picked as their first stop.