SPIDER-MAN Swings Off Broadway, Part Two: The Previews - Delays, Departures & Injuries
As BroadwayWorld previously reported,Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, the Broadway spectacular that defied odds and expectations to conquer New York, will play its final performance at the Foxwoods Theatre on January 4, 2014. Since it began preview performances on November 28, 2010, and even before they bagan, the show's high and lows were in the news, making it one of the most talked about shows in Broadway history. To tribute Spidey's three years on Broadway, BroadwayWorld will comemmorate it's run with a series of flashbacks to help you relive all of the excitement that is - and was - Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
Today's edition of 'SPIDER-MAN Swings Off Broadway' features Spidey's time in previews, recalling the show's journey from its first performance in November 2010, until the revamped edition opened on Broadway 183 previews Later. From late 2010 through June 2011, all eyes were on the Foxwoods, as numerous actors sustained severe injuries, and on-and-offstage drama between the creative team and producers emerged, eventually forcing visionary Julie Taymor to walk away, and leave SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK in the hands of others.
November 28, 2010: Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark Begins Previews on Broadway; Opening Night Set for January 11, 2011
After years of cast change-ups and numerous false starts, Julie Taymor and Glen Berger's all-encompassing production begins previews on Broadway at Foxwoods Theatre. Reeve Carney, Jennifer Damiano and Patrick Page lead the cast of the musical with a score by Bono and The Edge. Though Spidey may have finally swung onto Broadway, the show's first preview (and many after,) didn't come off without a hitch. Clocking in at over 3 hours and 45 minutes, the first performance was stopped multiple times due to technical errors, which resulted in an elongated intermission.
December 2-15, 2010: Natalie Mendoza Suffers Concussion During First Preview, Out of Show for Two Weeks
SPIDER-MAN's original 'Arachne,' Natalie Mendoza, suffered a concussion during the first preview after being hit by a piece of rope or equipment, it's revealed a few days later. The injury causes Mendoza to take a two-week medical leave, with understudy America Oliva taking on the role.
December 17, 2010: SPIDER-MAN Delays Opening to February 7, 2011
Producers push SPIDER-MAN's opening night from January 11 to February 7, 2011 in order for the creative team to implement new changes. In a statement released, lead producer Michael Cohl said, "Due to some unforeseeable setbacks, most notably the injury of a principal cast member, it has become clear that we need to give the team more time to fully execute their vision. Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark is an extremely ambitious undertaking, as everyone knows, and I have no intention of cutting a single corner in getting to the finish line."
December 20-22, 2010: Actor Christopher Tierney is Injured; SPIDER-MAN Performances Halted
Spidey stuntman Christoper Tierney is severely injured after falling from one of the production's set pieces. The New York Times initially reports that "Tierney sustained a fracture in his skull, a broken scapula, a broken bone close to his elbow, 4 broken ribs, a bruised lung and 3 fractured vertebrae." Actors Equity and the Department of Labor quickly halt performances through December 22 to ensure performers' safety while new measures are implemented.
December 22, 2010: SPIDER-MAN Resumes Performances
Following Tierney's injury and a brief shutdown, the production resumes previews on Broadway with new safety measures in place.
December 29, 2010: SPIDER-MAN Creative Team Speaks Out on Early Negative Reviews
After SPIDER-MAN resumed performances, Newsday and Bloomberg News published early reviews five weeks before the much delayed opening night. Spokesperson Rick Miramontez said, "For a major critic to review a Broadway musical, or play for that matter, after only the twentieth preview, is disappointing and uncalled for. Whatever reason the critic or their editor may have, it does not mask the fact that for decades, musicals have developed in front of paying audiences before critics are INVITED."
December 30, 2010: Natalie Mendoza Exits SPIDER-MAN, T.V. Carpio Steps in
After suffering a concussion during the first preview, Natalie Mendoza exits the production. In a statement, the acterss says, "It has been a difficult decision to make, but I regret that I am unable to continue on SPIDER-MAN as I recover from my injury. I wish Julie and the cast and crew every success with this production." ACROSS THE UNIVERSE actress, T.V. Cario, replaces Mendoza.
December 30, 2010: New Creative Changes Confirmed to be Underway
Show spokesperson Rick Miramontez confirms that new creative additions are being developed, and that Bono and The Edge will begin attending each preview performance. No details on what might be altered or removed are announced.
Week of January 1, 2011: Injured Actor Christopher Tierney Leaves Hospital, Begins Rehab
Christoper Tierney, who was admitted to the hospital in late December, enters an inpatient rehabilitation facility with "a long way to go" before heading home later that week.
January 7, 2011: Christopher Tierney Attends SPIDER-MAN Performance
After being released from rehab on January 5, Christopher Tierney takes a seat in the Foxwoods, and takes in SPIDER-MAN as an audience member. He told the press before the show began that he believed in the production and the crew, and held no grudge towards anyone. He also confirmed that he would be returning to SPIDER-MAN as soon as possible.
January 10-13, 2011: Heavy Rehearsals and Major Work on New SPIDER-MAN Finale, Music Confirmed to be Underway
With less than a month until opening night, SPIDER-MAN cast and crew rehearse around the clock in order to introduce the show's new finale, as well as other scenes, including Peter's apartment and the Labyrinth sequence, along with understudy rehearsals, costume fittings and more. On January 13, producer Michael Cohl confirms that the new finale has yet to be incorporated into the show. On SPIDER-MAN's opening night, he says, "It's life-I don't expect it to [change], but it's life."
January 13, 2011: Opening Night Pushed to March 15, 2011; Protocol for Critics in Question
Producers announce that SPIDER-MAN's opening night has once again been delayed. The show is now slated to officially bow on March 15, over two months after its originally scheduled opening night. The delay is to allow for more time to fine-tune aspects of the show, including the new ending. Major critics also confirm to BroadwayWorld that because the show will now have been seen by potentially 200,000 audience members before officially opening, they will not wait until March to publish their reviews.
January 19, 2011: New Finale Set
After weeks of rewrites and work, SPIDER-MAN's new high-flying finale is added to the show.
January 21, 2011: Julie Taymor Speaks Out on Christopher Tierney's Injury, Show's Safety Issues
Director Julie Taymor addresses Christoper Tierney's injury in an interview with the New York Times for the first time, aside from her original statement. In an attempt to clear her name from any fault in the injury, Taymor said, "It's physical theater. Someone said it was action theater. And it's a terrible thing to happen but I don't think you can point to someone who actually didn't do the thing and say that they're at fault. We all know what we're doing in here and all of the safety issues have been covered -- and that one there was a mistake on -- and hopefully it could never happen again." Taymor claims that Tierney will do "something on stage on opening night."
January 26, 2011: Alan Cumming: "I Dodged a Bullet with SPIDER-MAN"
After dropping out of the production as 'The Green Goblin,' Tony winner Alan Cumming confirms he believes that he made the right choice. "My GOD, that was a lucky escape," he says. "Jesus Christ! Talk about dodging a bullet there!". And on why he quit the production last April: "...it just fucked me about. It kept getting delayed and delayed, and so I was like, 'OK, time to move on." Cumming was eventually replaced by Patrick Page.
January 29, 2011: New Aerial Sequences, Scene Changes & Musical Tweaks in Place
With the new finale set, reworked aerial stunts, blocking, and musical alterations are inserted into the show, as Spidey begins to shape up on Broadway. "It's more challenging, because it's like working on a car that's still moving," Glen Berger, who co-wrote the book with director Julie Taymor, tells Variety.
February 7-8, 2011: Early SPIDER-MAN Reviews Emerge; Producer, Press Rep Speak Out
After confirming that they would not wait until SPIDER-MAN's March 15 opening night to publish their reviews, critics begin sounding off on the struggling show. Most initial reviews are negative, with the UK Telegraph printing "Please, Lord, make it stop," the Washington Post labeling SPIDER-MAN as "170 spirit-snuffing minutes," and the New York Times declaring that the show is "beyond repair." Lead producer Michael Cohl calls the writers "not legitimate reviewers," while spokesperson Rick Miramontez says,"the PILE-ON by the critics was ridiculous and uncalled for. Their actions are unprecedented and UNCOOL!"
February 11, 2011: Focus Group Testing Begins on New Show Material
SPIDER-MAN's producers and creative team begin focus group testing in order to determine what audiences think works in the show - and what doesn't.
February 12 & March 4, 2011: NY State Department of Labor Issues Safety Violations
The New York State Department of Labor Issues slap SPIDER-MAN with safety violations on February 12 and March 4. The first violations include Christopher Tierney's incident, and other actors who were injured while rehearsing. The Wall Street Journal writes that the second set of violations, "which carry $12,600 in proposed fines, come in response to the agency's investigation of four incidents that resulted in serious injuries to cast members."
March 9-10, 2011: Director Julie Taylor Departs SPIDER-MAN, New Creative Team Announced; Opening Delayed Again
The industry is rocked when producers confirm that Tony winner and visionary Julie Taymor is departing SPIDER-MAN. A press release states that the new plan for the show makes it "impossible for director and co-book writer Julie Taymor to continue on in her day-to-day duties with the production. Philip William McKinley and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa join the creative team to work on new staging and book rewrites. Musical consultant Paul Bogaev and sound designer Peter Hylenski also board the production. On March 10, the Wall Street Journal writes that Taymor's exit deal has yet to be finalized, and that issues surrounding royalties, copywrites, and a non-disclosure have not been agreed upon. Taymor's camp declines to comment on the separation negotiations, though confirms that litigation is not out of the question.
March 11, 2011: SPIDER-MAN Will Take Hiatus, Sets June 14, 2011 Opening for Revamped Show
With a new creative team in place and Julie Taymor out, producers confirm that SPIDER-MAN will briefly swing off of Broadway from April 19 - May 11, in order to allow rehearsal time for new changes to be implemented, including script revisions. A new opening night of June 14, 2011 is set, with previews slated to resume on May 12.
March 12-24, 2011: More Creative Team Shake-Ups Shock SPIDER-MAN; Legal Rights in Question
In a whirlwind twelve days, SPIDER-MAN is shaken with multiple changes. Legal discussions on Taymor's payout, royalties, and rights begin after she's forced out of the production, reports emerge that book co-writer Glen Berger may also depart, and Chase Brock replaces Daniel Ezralow as SPIDER-MAN's choreographer.
March 22-April 3, 2011: T.V. Carpio Sustains Whiplash, Takes Medical Leave from Show
On March 22, SPIDER-MAN's 'Arachne,' T.V. Carpio, is sidelined from the production after suffering 'whiplash.' The actress returns to rehearsals for the revamped show over two weeks later on April 3.
March 25, 2011: New SPIDER-MAN Script Introduced
After months of rework, BWW confirms that SPIDER-MAN's leads read through the revamped script for the first time, are introduced to new choreographer Chase Brock, and that The Geek Chorus has been cut from the production.
April 17, 2011: SPIDER-MAN Performs Last Pre-Hiatus Performance
Following its matinee performance on April 17, SPIDER-MAN takes a three-week hiatus for additional rehearsals before unveiling the new version of the mega-musical on May 12.
May 12, 2011: Revamped SPIDER-MAN Begins Performances; Christopher Tierney Back in Cast
After its historic hiatus, SPIDER-MAN is back on Broadway like never before. With a revamped script, songs, aerial stunts, and staging, the beleagured production returns to the Foxwoods with a new creative team - with infamously injured actor Christopher Tierney back in the cast.
June 2, 2011: Reports Emerge that Taymor in Financial Dispute with SPIDER-MAN Producers
The Daily Beast writes that former director and book co-writer Julie Taymor has yet to receive any payments owed for her previous participation with the production. Says Laura Penn, executive director of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society that represents Taymor, "Julie was paid $125,000 five years ago. For nine years of work on this project that is all she has been paid...It's startling." The report also notes that the case could head to court.
June 14, 2011: SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK '2.0' Opens on Broadway
After 183 previews, onstage and offstage drama, and the critics descending long before the opening, SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK officially opens on Broadway. With many creative changes now in stone, the show officially features "creative consultation by Philip William McKinley, original direction by Tony Award-winner Julie Taymor, music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge, and book co-written by Taymor, Glen Berger and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa."
For part one of BroadwayWorld's 'SPIDER-MAN Swings Off Broadway' series, click here.