Saturday, March 12, 2011

Swinging Back Into Action?

Spider-Man had two great things happen to him in the same day this past Thursday. First, a copy of “Amazing Fantasy” #15 sold for $1.1 million - damn-near unheard of for a comic book as young as 1962 and a testament in and of itself to how popular the character is.

The second great event that day must have seemed like a cosmic reward. Julie Taymor, director of the bane of my existence the Spider-Man musical, Turn off the Dark, has done herself, Broadway, comic fans everywhere, and the rest of the world a huge favor by stepping down as the director of the show and helped everyone realize where the problem with this musical was.

The producers were all, “she’ll still be around because it was her creative vision that helped shape this thing” - and then promptly got to work cleaning up behind her, making changes such as:

  • Reinforcing the love story between Peter Parker and Mary-Jane - a no-brainer
  • Ditching a musical number called “Deeply Furious”, which reportedly sucked out loud
  • Reworking the involvement of the Green Goblin - who was slated to die in Act I and inexplicably show up again in Act II - and making the way for him to be the main villain (again, duh), because
  • Arachne, the eight-legged villainess Taymor created for this mess, will be pretty much written out of the story.

    After nine years (wow, has it been THAT long??) of work on this thing, it might - might - finally be headed in the right direction. I’m still not convinced this show is a good idea in the first place, but at least now the curse of the egotistical director who refused to let anything get in the way of her vision - even common sense and any respect for what makes this character special in the first place - has been lifted.

    The official story is that she stepped aside of her own free will. Behind the scenes, however, word is she refused to listen to anyone about making changes to the show after the recent critical drubbing it took. Not accepting input from the cast (who even seemed to know more than her in this instance) is one thing, but refusing to make changes even after her bosses - the producers of the show - told her to? Even after Bono and The Edge told her to? Honey, that’s just suicidal. After the money they’ve put in to this thing and with their reputations on the line, you’d best believe Bono and The Edge would have a little say. And probably more than a little stroke, since they’re, you know...half of U2 and all.

    Taymor may have made The Lion King a huge success, but her resulting ego and artsier-than-thou aesthetic (she made the movies Across the Universe, Frida, and Titus, among others) were less-than-conducive to a mainstream big-budget spectacle involving super heroes - something she obviously knows nothing about. Hopefully, she learned lessons in both artistic and egotistical restraint.

    Hopefully, Broadway producers everywhere learned a lesson, as well: never trust a woman named “Julie”.

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