What 'Spider-Man' Creators Can Learn From Famous Broadway Flop

Jacob Cohl

The daughter of "Via Galactica" producer George W. George offers some advice in a New York Times op-ed piece.

The daughter of producer George W. George, who worked on one of Broadway's most famous flops, offered some advice to the creators of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark in an op-ed piece in Sunday's New York Times.

Jennifer George detailed the "heartache" and "regret" her father felt after the 1972 sci-fi musical Via Galactica, starring Raul Julia and Virginia Vestoff, lasted only seven performances.

At the time, it was the most expensive musical ever staged, and it was plagued with problems. During preview performances, actors and scenery fell through the soft trampoline flooring, many performers were injured, technical glitches caused the special effects to go awry, and the production suffered delays.

Sound familiar?

At $65 million and counting, Spider-Man is the now most expensive Broadway production ever, and this production also has been hampered by technical glitches, injuries -- one of which forced star Natalie Mendoza to pull out of the show just last week -- and a delay of the official opening night so creative aspects could be refined.

Jennifer George wrote that her late father would talk about what he should have done differently on Via Galactica many years after the production shut down, and she was reminded of the musical after attending a preview performance of Spider-Man last week.

"Three hours and one mechanical glitch later, I left the theater feeling uneasy, my long-dormant Via Galactica synapses firing," she wrote.

But Jennifer George added that she's pulling for Spider-Man to be a success and offered some advice to the production's creators.
"I can well imagine the pressure the creators of Spider-Man have been under," she wrote. "Right before opening night, when you’re running out of time, you can find yourself so close to the canvas that you can’t see the big picture.

"But I’d like to urge them, take a moment, now if you can. Step back and look at what you have. Put the play’s human moments front and center. There’s still time."