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Troubled 'Spider-Man' Musical Inspires Playwrights to Pen Spin-Offs
Critics have had a field day with the troubled musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" due to its numerous delays and flubbed aerial stunts. The musical has also been the grist for several new plays.
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
A number of plays centered around the fictional superhero Spider-Man will hit the stage in the coming week, including "Spidermann" at The Tank on March 13, and "The Spidey Project," which is scheduled to open at the Peoples Improv Theater (P.I.T.) on March 14. The production that was the inspiration for creating these plays is Julie Taymor's "Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark," scheduled to open on March 15 at the Foxwoods Theatre.
New Jersey natives Justin Moran and Jon Roufaeal wrote the script for "The Spidey Project" in February after the producers of Taymor's play announced the opening night of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" would be delayed for a fifth time.
"All of the original waves of reviews had come out for 'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,' and they were all fairly bad," Moran said before a Monday night rehearsal of his play at the Magnet Studios. "So, I said something to the effect of, 'I don't want to criticize Julie Taymor until I've tried it myself, so I'm going to do it...in the next 30 days, I'll assemble a cast, write, score, block, rehearse, choreograph, find a venue and open a show...one day before 'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.'"
"The Spidey Project," (pictured at right) which is not based on Taymor's play but rather on Marvel's Spider-Man comic books, will be performed at the P.I.T. at 8 P.M. and 10 P.M. on Monday. Ticket holders can expect to hear catchy tunes and see aerial stunts. "I'd hate to give too much away, but we definitely do a fair amount of web slinging through the skyline of Manhattan," Moran said.
"Spidermann"—note the extra "N" in the play's name—premiers in New York City on Sunday night. The show is directed by the Seattle playwright John Osebold, who performs under the stage name Jose Bold. His musical's script is based on the problems "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" has had in getting off the ground, along with the Marvel comics and Spider-Man movies.
"I've put it into a little bit of a blender and it's come out on the other side into a very strange experience," Osebold said. "At the risk of sounding like a total nut, it is basically a deconstruction of all those elements put back together in basically, like, a wrong order."
Osebold got the idea to create the show in December when the production was delayed for a fourth time.
"Given how much this infamous Broadway production has undergone, I just thought it would be really great to have a production that was really tiny. Like the exact opposite in every possible way," Osebold said over the phone from the West Coast. He and the cast of "Spidermann" (pictured at left) are headed to New York later this week. "Not only is it done at pretty much $0 budget and thrown together in a very limited amount of time and with a small cast, but also...there are no sets, there is very little costume and even the songs get interrupted in order to move the action forward."
Meanwhile, "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" is just a week from opening. A spokesperson from the company told WNYC in an e-mail that the $65 million musical will open next Tuesday as planned. The company would not comment on speculation that the show's director, Julie Taymor, would be replaced. Taymor did not get back to WNYC with a comment by press time.
(Top Image: Reeve Carney as Peter Parker and ensemble rehearsing “Bullying By Numbers” in "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." Middle Image: Rehearsing "The Spidey Project." Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia. Bottom Image: "Spidermann" being performed in Seattle. Photo by Victoria VanBruinisse.)