Spider-Man :: Turn Off the Director?
This week the musical Spider-Man may get a new sub-title. Instead of "Turn Off the Dark," it might be "Turn Off the Director."
It appears that Julie Taymor - the creative force behind the $65 million (and counting) musical - is being asked by producers to work with an expanded creative team. Some anonymous reports have said that she may be leaving the show altogether.
These rumors were given credence Monday evening by the New York Times that reported Taymor’s role as director may be curtailed as the show lunges forward in previews. She is said to be asked by the show’s producers to work with an expanded creative team on the most expensive, most previewed and most ridiculed Broadway musical in history.
Yet despite its tribulations, it continues to do strong business. The week ending 3/6/2011 it grossed $1,281,776, second only to Wicked ($1,388,574) and right above Taymor’s other Broadway hit The Lion King ($1,212,418).
Business aside, the show has been a public relations disaster, plagued by injuries, code violations, and disastrous reviews by critics who reviewed the show despite it not be frozen. That the show was said to be pushing back its opening yet again (for the sixth time) may be prompting this action by the producers.
Another opening, another show?
The Times reported: "The producers and Ms. Taymor and her co-creators, Bono and the Edge of U2, are also discussing how extensively to overhaul the script and music; how many outside consultants should be hired, and who; and when to open the show, which set a record at its Sunday matinee for the most preview performances ever, its 98th. (The previous record was set in 1969 by Jackie Mason’s ’A Teaspoon Every Four Hours.’)
"... The people who spoke about the negotiations said that, throughout Monday, they were not sure if Ms. Taymor would stay or go as director. One person briefed on the negotiations said that Bono, who has been away for much of the show’s preview period, had taken a direct role in the talks."
Last week it was reported that Bono was revisiting the show for the first time since January to give his assessment of whether it was ready to officially open.
This announcement comes days after Taymor spoke in Long Beach at the TED2011 conference last week about the trials and tribulations she has faced in bringing the most expensive musical to Broadway.
"Anyone who creates knows - when it’s not quite there," she said. "Where it hasn’t quite become the phoenix or the burnt char. And I am right there."
Taymor, the Times reported over the weekend, was still working on the show, saying she was currently "in the crucible and the fire of transformation" as changes were being made to show.
In the crucible
According to the Times report, Taymor compared her struggles with the musical to a trip she took to Indonesia with a friend.
In Indonesia, Ms. Taymor recalled, she and a friend decided to scale the side of twin volcanoes, but her friend then disappeared into the sulfurous smoke, leaving her behind perched between a dead and live volcano.
"It’s very easy to climb up, is it not?" she said. "I am on the precipice looking down into a dead volcano on my left, on the right it is sheer shale. I am in thongs and sarong and no hiking boots. I realize I can’t go back the way I have come. I can’t. So I throw away my camera. I throw away my thongs and I looked at the line straight in front of me. And I got down on all fours like a cat. And I held with my knees to either side of this line in front of me - 30 yards or 30 feet, I don’t know. The wind was massively blowing, and the only way I could get to the other side was to look at the line straight in front of me."
She added: "I know you have been there. I am in the crucible right now. It is my trial by fire. It’s my company’s trial by fire. We have survived because our theme song is ’Rise Above.’ " She then referred to another song from the show as she continued: "’Boy falls from the sky.’ ’Rise Above.’ "
"It’s right there in the palm of my hands," she said. "In all of my company’s hands. I have beautiful collaborators. We as collaborators only get there all together. I know you understand that. You stay there going forward and you see this extraordinary thing right in front of your eyes.
"You must be true to what you believe as an artist all the way through," she continued, "but you almost have to be aware that the audience is out there in our lives at this time and they also need the light. And it’s this incredible balance that I think we walk when we are breaking ground, that’s trying to do something that you’ve never seen before, that the imaginary worlds, where you actually don’t know where you are going to end up. That’s the fine line at the edge of the crater as I have done my whole life."
Those damn violations!
In a related development, the show was cited cited by U.S. regulators for workplace safety violations after injuries to actors in the Broadway show.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today proposed fining producers of the $65 million show $12,600 for "serious" violations.
"Employees were exposed to the hazards of falls or being struck during flying routines because of improperly adjusted or unsecured safety harnesses," the agency said today in an e- mailed statement.
The report said: "From the investigation, OSHA alleges that employees were exposed to the hazards of falls or being struck during flying routines because of improperly adjusted or unsecured safety harnesses. An additional fall hazard stemmed from unguarded open-side floors that lacked fall protection. Finally, the company failed to shield employees from being struck by moving overhead rigging components. "These conditions resulted in the issuance of the three serious citations, with a total of $12,600 in proposed fines. OSHA issues a serious citation when tA scene from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Darkhere is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known."