'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark': Bono Says He 'Misses' Julie Taymor But 'Had to Make it Work'
"Uncurtailed ambition" proved a bigger threat to Spider-Man than the Green Goblin, according to Bono and the Edge.
The U2 singer and guitarist, who composed music for the show, candidly talked about the trouble-plagued Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark Monday night at NYC's 92Y. Speaking with Jujamcyn Theaters president Jordan Roth before a packed house, the Irish rockers addressed the controversies that have dogged the show since it began performances last year.
"When we first read it, we thought it was wonderful," Bono said. Added the Edge: "We felt we were in the hands of true experts. We loved every minute of it."
But things changed when they saw the show late in previews. At that point, the reportedly $70 million production -- dubbed "Version 1.0" -- was racking up multiple cast injuries, continual technical problems and heaps of negative publicity.
Asked whether the show really required its gargantuan production values, Bono commented: "If you're going to do Spider-Man, you don't want it to be Samuel Beckett. I don't think minimalism suits the subject."
However, both agreed that the original book, co-written by the show's erstwhile director Julie Taymor and Glen Berger, needed serious fixing. Having two villains proved too distracting, so one of them -- the mythical, spider-based Arachne -- was reduced to a minor character. Greater emphasis was placed on the Green Goblin, as well as the love story between Peter Parker and Mary Jane.
It was also clear that director Taymor had to go. She was dismissed in March.
"She poured so much of her life into this," said Bono. "I think she probably knew there were serious problems. But we disagreed on how big a fix was needed.
"I miss her," he added. "But we had to make it work. In the end, the Edge and I have got good manners, we're fun ... but we're motherf--ers."
Philip Wm. McKinley was brought in to restage the show. "He's called 'creative consultant,' " said the Edge. "But he's really the new director. He's brought the characters and their relationships into focus."
Despite the fact that the show opens officially Tuesday, Bono said that the creative team is continuing to work on it.
"I saw it last week and loved it, but I think we still have a ways to go," he added. "There are still some issues that need to be fixed. We are 10% off. Within the next weeks and months, you'll see a real shift."
Asked about the hostile climate that has surrounded the show, Bono acknowledged "that natural stuff where people just want to see the rich rock stars step on banana peels. But I think there's general good will now, and we really need it."
Bono got the biggest cheers from the crowd when talking about the stunt double who fell to the stage in December and sustained serious injuries before recently returning to the show. "I'll tell you who's a rock star," he proclaimed. "Chris Tierney is a rock star."