Friday, March 11, 2011
KERRY NOLAN: Injured actors. Fines from federal authorities. The Broadway musical "Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark" has been plagued by these problems and more during its long preview run. On Wednesday, the producers of the most expensive show in Broadway history--65-million-dollars--announced that Tony-award-winning director Julie Taymor would have a diminished role, raising even more questions about the future of the musical.
Here with the latest is Patrick Healy. He’s a theater reporter for the New York Times.
Good morning Patrick.
PATRICK HEALY: Good morning Kerry.
KERRY NOLAN: Okay Patrick, on the one hand, Julie Taymor is said to be still on board in a smaller capacity. On the other, she's said to be out entirely. What's the real story?
PATRICK HEALY: Well, it seems like some face-saving is going on. Julie Taymor will still be listed as the director of record in the playbill. She’ll still be listed as a co-script writer. But look, she’s out, and it’s an extraordinary sacking, I mean, she has been on the show for nine years. She built it herself. She’s a Tony-award-winning director from the Lion King. She’s sort of a Golden Girl of Broadway. But the show has been having so many problems, some of which, I think, have little to do with Julie Taymor that the producers needed to do a gamechanger, and they think that that’s getting rid of their director.
KERRY NOLAN: As you said Taymor is a huge force in the theater, so how does something like this happen?
PATRICK HEALY: Well, it’s commercial Broadway. It’s a 65 million dollar show as you said. It’s the most expensive show to run. More than a million dollars each week. So they have to sell a lot of tickets. And for whatever reason, the show has had, you know, a good number of problems, some of which you listed. Others: The critics, you know, almost uniformly hated it. And some shows are critic-proof, but 65 million dollar show is always hard to be critic-proof. So they needed to do something that ultimately, I think, sort of changed the show to sort of send a signal that they were doing a lot of work on it, you know, in the hopes that the critics and audience members, and maybe audience members who were skeptical about buying tickets would give it a second look.
KERRY NOLAN: It’s had the longest preview run in Broadway history. Opening night has been postponed a staggering six times. Can this show really be saved?
PATRICK HEALY: Well, we’ll see. I think the idea is that Spiderman is a brand that rises above all the media gossip and the day-to-day little controversies. U2 has a huge following. The idea is, OK, the show will run or won’t run on Broadway, but ultimately, they can take a version to Vegas, where they can probably run for a very long time. There will always be people coming off the gambling floors who want to see a show. It could make a ton of money there. It could go to London. It could go around the world.
KERRY NOLAN: It’s got a lot of potential in other words?
PATRICK HEALY: Sure.
KERRY NOLAN: Well, what is the official opening night date?
PATRICK HEALY: It’s funny. Finally, they’ve decided that they had to keep cancelling on themselves. Now, they won’t pick a date. They’re just saying early summer, so the thinking is it will be around the Tony awards in mid-June.
KERRY NOLAN: Thanks a lot Patrick. Patrick Healy is a theater reporter for the New York Times. And that's today's Arts File on classical 105.9 FM WQXR.