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'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark' Producer: U2, 'New Ideas' Delayed Opening

'It was a culmination of reasons. This is a continuing process,' says Michael Cole

December 17, 2010 6:29 PM ET
Reeve Carney rehearses his role as Spider-Man.
Reeve Carney rehearses his role as Spider-Man.
spidermanonbroadway.marvel.com

The producers of the famously troubled Broadway show Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark announced today that the official opening night, set for January 11th, has been postponed to allow further work on the production. The new date is February 7th. The show will continue to run in previews, which began in late November.

The need for another delay "became apparent last week," producer Michael Cohl told Rolling Stone. "It was a culmination of reasons. This is a continuing process. We're previewing, which takes away from our time to iron out wrinkles and put other things in." Cohl added that director Julie Taymor had "some great new ideas over the last two or three weeks. We said, 'Yeah, let's put them in.' But if it takes a week for everybody to figure things out and put them in the show, well, we don't have that many rehearsal hours between now and January 11th."

Another further complication was that U2's Bono and the Edge, who wrote the music and lyrics in the show, have been on tour with in Australia during the previews. "They couldn't be here to work on the songs, and tweak things in the sound," Cohl said. "So we turned it into a positive rather than a negative. If we delay it for a month, Bono and Edge will be back from Australia, and Julie can get everything done that she wants."

According to Cohl, Spider-Man:Turn Off the Dark has done $17 million in ticket sales to date. The show, which has already cost an estimated $65 million to mount, is the most expensive production in Broadway history.

"I've no concerns, no worries," Bono told Rolling Stone in early December, during a phone interview from Australia. The show's highly publicized problems "couldn't be further from my mind," he insisted. "I want people to feel the story, to get it – because it's innovative."

Spider-Man, which has nineteen new songs by Bono and the Edge and features aerial sequences unprecedented in Broadway storytelling, has been in development for most of this decade. The Edge told Rolling Stone that he and Bono first met with Taymor to discuss the possibility of working together in 2002. "That's the one thing we've never been able to plan with this thing – timing," the Edge admitted. "It's such a mammoth undertaking. And we're a much smaller part of this than we would be in a U2 project."

Music workshops were underway in the spring of 2009. But a planned opening in early this year fell through when the show's financing collapsed. Production delays forced two previously announced stars, Alan Cumming and Evan Rachel Wood, to leave the production. And there have been cast injuries. Most recently, Natalie Mendoza, who plays the character Arachne, suffered a concussion in a backstage accident.

The story itself is in some flux. Bono and the Edge both said they felt the resolution, at the end of the second act, needed clarity, and Cohl confirmed that the ending is "part of some of the great stuff Julie has come up with, to make the show even better."

"Yes, I want it to be a smash hit," Bono said, about his hopes for the show, "especially with all of the people who want it to fail. I also think it's a very moving story. If we get the end right, I think people will be moved."

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