The much-anticipated, much-delayed stage spectacle Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark held its first public performance last night at NYC’s Foxwoods Theater on 42nd St., and — as you could have guessed, judging from the years-long development of the most expensive musical in Broadway history — there were a few problems. Reports indicate that the $65 million show started 24 minutes late, stopped at least four times in the first act due to technical snags with several of the aerial stunts, and ran more than three hours long. (On the plus side, it also garnered a mostly favorable piece on last night’s 60 Minutes.)
The show, directed by Tony winner Julie Taymor (The Lion King) and featuring the music of U2’s Bono and The Edge, is clearly going through a very public birthing process before its official Jan. 11 opening. “It went much better last night than expected,” says producer Michael Cohl, a former Live Nation executive who’s worked on concert tours with the Rolling Stones and U2 and produced stage shows from Spamalot to La Cage aux Folles. “As far as the show is concerned, I’m ecstatic. We came within just inches of getting through the entire second half without a stop. In your first preview, I think that’s quite extraordinary. It is a preview. It is a look inside the process of creating what will be the final live show, and that show will be shown to the world on Jan. 11. Last night was by no means an opening.”
The show doesn’t have another public performance until this coming Wednesday, Dec. 1. So how will the producers fix the show’s problems? “We’ll go over an analysis of what happened, why it happened, and how to prevent it from happening next time,” Cohl tells EW. “We’ll keep working on it and working on it. It’s probably a little more difficult than the average show people do, and in order to make it work, that’s why we’re here so early and why we’re not going to have our official opening until Jan. 11.”
Cohl couldn’t seem more calm about the whole situation — he promises Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will be in full working order by its fifth performance, which would would be this Saturday, Dec. 4. Despite all the negative press, he says he’s encouraged by the response of theatergoers who attended last night. “I thought the audience enjoyed it,” Cohl says. “They stood at the end and clapped; they laughed at the jokes; they clapped after every song. I thought it was a 10 out of a 10 in the category of first previews.”
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky
More on ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ from EW.com:
‘Spider-Man’ the musical on ’60 Minutes': A first look at a big hit or a big turkey?
‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark': New video features Bono, Julie Taymor, gorgeous-looking nonsense
‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ musical details revealed: Are you getting drawn into its web?
‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ images: And you thought Emo Spider-man was bizarre!
The ‘Spider-Man’ musical: A circus ‘rock-n-roll drama’? Really?