Julie Taymor, the director and co-author of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” has been replaced, the producers announced last night, just before another mechanical glitch.
The show came to a halt during the big aerial battle between Spider-Man and Green Goblin when the latter’s flying gear failed, leaving the villain dangling over the heads of people sitting in the orchestra.
The show continued on the ground.
“Taymor is not leaving the creative team,” Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris, lead producers of the $65 million musical, said in a statement released before the show. The performance was the 100th preview.
“Julie’s previous commitments mean that past March 15, she cannot work the 24/7 necessary to make the changes in the production in order to be ready for our opening.”
The statement didn’t say what those commitments are, nor did it specify a new opening date, other than that it had been “rescheduled for early summer, 2011.”
After negotiations earlier this week, the producers hired Philip William McKinley to replace Taymor at the helm of the show. McKinley’s only previous Broadway experience was as director of “The Boy From Oz,” a 2003 musical about Peter Allen that starred Hugh Jackman. McKinley has also worked as a director for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Taymor’s duties as co-author, with Glen Berger, of the show’s book have been given to Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, a playwright and sometime contributor to the “Spider-Man” comic books published by Marvel Entertainment.
Surprisingly, Taymor doesn’t have a signed Dramatists Guild contract for the show, according to the person familiar with the meetings this week. Her words can be altered.
Although such contract terms had been set, the person with knowledge of the negotiations said, the contract wasn’t signed by Bono and The Edge.
The U2 band members wrote the songs for the show and recruited Taymor as director because of her success in staging “The Lion King” on Broadway. For “Spider-Man,” Taymor is credited as director, co-author of the book and designer of the masks.
“The production will not comment on private business matters regarding the show,” said spokesman Rick Miramontez in an e-mail.
Many critics called the storyline incoherent. Taymor introduced Arachne, a figure from Greek mythology, as a major character in a plot otherwise drawn from the comic book’s familiar elements. Her scenes will be minimized or cut entirely, said two people with knowledge of the negotiations.
“Deeply Furious,” a musical number in which Arachne and her accomplices go shopping for shoes, will be cut, despite the fact that it is reputedly one of Taymor’s favorites.
The Green Goblin’s Act I death will also be cut, so that his appearance in Act II will make more sense.
To facilitate the changes, Cohl and Harris will close down the show for about two weeks before setting a new opening date. It would mark the sixth time an opening date has been announced for the show.
“Everybody in the company has a deep affection for Julie,” one of the leading actors in the show said before last night’s performance. “We have no idea what is going to happen, but it’s going to be very sad.”
After years of delay, changes of producers and postponed openings, “Spider-Man” finally began previews on Nov. 28 last year.