Monday 5 December 2016

Bono battles to save troubled 'Spider-Man' with drastic revamp

Vincent Murphy in New York

Published 19/04/2011 | 05:00

Reeve Carney and Jennifer Damiano in the final show of the original Spider-Man musical on Sunday
Reeve Carney and Jennifer Damiano in the final show of the original Spider-Man musical on Sunday

U2 frontman Bono is on his way to New York to perform a drastic revamp on the troubled 'Spider-Man' musical which has already cost $70m (€49.1m).

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After a critical mauling, the lights have gone out on 'Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark' for the next three weeks while rehearsals begin for a new version of the show.

The production is the most expensive Broadway show ever staged, and despite a record 140 previews, it has never officially opened. It has been plagued by technical problems and producers are now putting the finishing touches to a revised version of the show, which they hope will be more crowd-pleasing and easier to understand.

U2 guitarist The Edge was at the Foxwoods Theatre, off Times Square, on Sunday night to watch the final performance of the original version, which he co-wrote with Bono. The U2 frontman is due to join him in New York later this week to work on new songs for the reworked musical.

New director Phillip William McKinley is putting more focus on the love story between Peter Parker and Mary Jane, and the battle with the villain Green Goblin.

The character of villainous spider-woman Arachne, which had a central role in the original production, is to be scaled back significantly, and a Greek chorus of four singers who narrated the show is to be dropped altogether. Cast members were back at rehearsals yesterday.

Break

"We don't get a break. The show has shut down but I'm still working," said Reeve Carney, who plays Spider-Man and his alter ego Peter Parker.

"For the past few weeks we have been rehearsing the new show, while performing the old show at night. It's going to be great to be able to focus on one thing again."

Bono and the Edge are known to be working on at least two new songs for the show, and Carney said he believes one of them has the potential to be an international hit.

"All I'll say is that one of the new songs is one of my favourites and I'm really excited about it," he said.

It remains to be seen if the reworked version can win over critics who panned the original production. Despite this, it was seen by over 285,000 people and made more than $25m (€17.6m) at the box office.

Cast members held up a handwritten sign saying 'Back May 12' during the curtain call at Sunday's final show.

The original vision created by director Julie Taymor, who has been replaced, was marred by an endless array of difficulties including actor injuries, technical problems and creative conflicts.

Patrick Page, who plays the Green Goblin, said he believed the changes would make it a better show.

"It's going to be a lot more fun for me," he said. "I think fans of the comic book will be very pleased."

Jennifer Damiano, who plays Mary Jane, said she believed the new version would put "a lighter spin on things".

"They have their reasons for wanting to change things and my job is just to make that work," she said.

Previews of the new version begin on May 12, with the official opening now scheduled for Tuesday, June 14.

Irish Independent

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