NEW YORK – While parsing this morning’s Tony nominations, Perez Hilton, E! Online and other outlets commented on the lack of love from the awards committee for Broadway’s favorite punching bag, Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark. But guess what? The show was ineligible.
Only productions that officially opened before the Tony cut-off date of April 28 this year could be considered for awards. And since Spidey has been in previews for longer than the entire run of some Broadway shows, but has bumped back its opening night at least five times, that puts the troubled musical off the table for this season.
Following the abrupt exit in March of original director and co-creator Julie Taymor, Spider-Man has been on hiatus from previews for the past two weeks. It resumes performances on Thursday May 12, when the contributions of the show’s newly installed creative team will be revealed. That group includes director Philip William McKinley, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and choreographer Chase Brock.
They were enlisted by producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris to save a production that was savaged by critics in February, yet has been a consistently strong performer at the box office. Its hefty grosses were fueled by saturation media coverage resulting from a string of accidents involving cast members on the technically complex production.
“We look forward to getting to the finish line with the wonderful new version of Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark that is now in the works, with Phil McKinley at the helm,” said the producers in a statement.
Word from insiders on the overhaul has it that the role of the traditional villain in the Spider-Man origin story, the Green Goblin (Patrick Page), has been expanded (he no longer dies at the end of Act I), while Taymor’s focus-pulling mythological nemesis, Arachne (T.V. Carpio), has been downsized from antagonist to a figure more akin to a guardian angel or muse. Reports indicate that the new team has beefed up the romance between Peter Parker (Reeve Carney) and Mary Jane Watson (Jennifer Damiano). New songs by Bono and the Edge also have been added.
Two of the most maligned elements of Taymor’s production have been excised. The “geek chorus” of comic-book fans is out, as is the infamous shoe-shopping number titled “Deeply Furious,” which is a cause of some sorrow to cultists of bad Broadway musicals.
Spider-Man obsessives will be looking closely at the show to see what remains of Taymor’s production and what the new team has brought. The latest official opening date has been set for June 14, following another month of previews to test-drive the reworked material. If that opening sticks, the show will be eligible for consideration in the 2012 Tony Awards.