Playwright Behind 'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark' Explains Why the Musical Failed

Even a superhero couldn't save the famously troubled production.
Jacob Cohl
'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark'

Before it floundered, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was predicted to be a smash hit worthy of a superhero.

After all, U2's Bono and The Edge were helping turn one of the most popular superheroes in the world into a musical. But production issues, huge costs and negative reception by critics saw Turn Off the Dark close in infamy three years after opening.

Glen Berger, who co-wrote the book for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark with Julie Taymor, gave an interview with the A.V. Club, telling all about the disaster even Spider-Man could not save.

“Our biggest blunder was that we only had one workshop, and then we went into rehearsals for the Broadway run of the show,” said Berger.

The play cost $75 million to produce and though it was a big earner in the beginning, by the end it was not generating enough money to cover production. Several actors were injured on set, and Taymor was dismissed from the play and later sued its producers.

Berger went on to say he had started having real seeds of doubt about Spider-Man when actors began getting hurt during the play’s production. He also said Taymor was unwilling to change anything in Turn Off the Dark during rehearsals.

“From our first preview to the day Julie left the show seven months later, not a single song was cut, which is kind of indicative of the rigidity that was setting in for one camp of the creators who felt like, 'No, we came up with the perfect show. We just need to find a way to render it competently,'" said Berger.

When Taymor left Turn Off the Dark, a new director, choreographer and co-writer were hired for the play. Berger felt rejuvenated and excited to save Spider-Man. Unfortunately, everybody’s favorite webslinger couldn’t shake the bad cloud surrounding his play. Turn Off The Dark concluded its run on Jan. 4, 2014.

Berger wrote a book chronicling his experience about the show in 2013’s Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History. For her part, Taymor blamed Bono and The Edge for the musical's problems.

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