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The duo, who composed the music for the show, told the New York Times that they were not prepared for the ambitiousness behind director and chief creative force Julie Taymor’s ideas despite the fact that they fully embraced the script (Taymor was ousted in March).
In fact, they said they never would have signed on if they had known it would take a decade for the whole thing to finally come together.
“The hours and weeks and months,” Bono said. “If we thought it would take this long, there is not a chance on earth we’d have done it.”
The show — at $70 million and counting, the most expensive Broadway musical ever — has been plagued by technical issues, cast injuries and opening-night delays. In February, several critics posted mostly scathing reviews in a move that angered producers, who argued that they should have waited until the official opening night. (Read The Hollywood Reporter’s review here.)
Part of the problem, according to Bono, was that no one involved in the show had even seen a full run-through before the November previews and that doing the previews before an out-of-town tryout was a “terrible decision” that put a lot of pressure on Taymor. But because of the massive sets and aerial technology, such a test would have been impossible.
“Looking back, we, through inexperience, had no sense of the implications of that decision,” Bono said. “That the first time anyone saw a full run-through of the story, songs, staging, and show was the first night of previews. Can you imagine that? No one had seen the whole thing before everyone saw it.”
And U2 was on tour overseas, so Bono and the Edge didn’t see the show until later, on video. And they said they realized both the plot and music needed a lot of work, and the show lacked an ending. The creatives then began reworking the story, but Taymor was later ousted, with Philip William McKinley taking over as director.
Asked whether the two had plotted against the director, the Edge said: “Julie was clearly exhausted, overwrought, and we all thought that if we don’t tread carefully, she’s going to walk. We were tiptoeing around her, and I think that probably meant that people were careful in what they said or told her. I certainly didn’t feel I could be 100% frank with Julie, and that was because I felt she was carrying so much of the weight.”
Bono and the Edge — who revealed that he put some of his own money into the show but declined to say how much — claim that the musical still needs a little bit of work, mostly concerning the relationship between Peter Parker and the villain, the Green Goblin, that will be done this summer.
Meanwhile, Bono said he didn’t come to “love” the show — at New York’s Foxwoods Theatre — until recently.
“The first time I loved Spider-Man was two and a half weeks ago,” he said. “Even when I was really angry about its obtuse story and some of the awful readings of the music — even then I was still saying, it was kind of magical.”
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