Curse broken? Spider-Man opens on Broadway

Remember where you were on Tuesday night. That evening, 14 June 2011, Broadway history was made as the curtain finally, and officially, rose on SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark at the Foxwoods Theatre (213 West 42nd St. NYC).

Turn off the Dark
SPIDER-MAN Turn off The Dark

SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark began preview performances on 28 November, 2010. The $70+ million production, the most expensive in Broadway history, was plagued with problems, injuries and poor reviews almost from the start. The production even went dark for a while after a 30-foot fall into the orchestra pit seriously injured actor Christopher Tierney. He was only one of five actors injured during the accident prone preview run.

The production of SPIDER-MAN Turn Off the Dark that officially opened Tuesday, bears scant resemblance to the majority of the preview shows. Original director Julie Taymor, already a Broadway legend for The Lion King and Across the Universe,  was replaced in March 2011 after some nine years with the project. Director Philip William McKinley (The Boy From Oz) was brought in to bring the project, “reimagined” by writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (who also wrote Fantastic Four  and Spider-Man comics)  and musical composers Bono and The Edge, to opening night.

One might assume that a successful, and injury-free opening night, attended by a who’s who list of celebrities would be enough to lay the curse to rest. And yet the enormously expensive production which survived a record-breaking 183 preview performances can’t quite shake that shadow. The critics were kinder, giving the opening night widely varying reviews, but it is unlikely that is enough to allow SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark to enjoy the same success Spider-Man and Peter Parker have enjoyed in Marvel comic books for more than 40 years. And yet tickets are now on sale through 2 October, 2011 with group tickets on sale through 6 January, 2012.

Perhaps the glittery opening night crowd, which included President Bill Clinton, Matt Damon, Jay-Z, Robert DeNiro, Barbara Walters, Lesley Stahl, Helena Christensen, Steve Martin, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Liam Neeson, Spike Lee, Julian Lennon, Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller,Lou Reed, Cindy Crawford, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Strokes, John McEnroe, Hannah Storm, Salman Rushdie, Fran Lebowitz, Gayle King, and Harry Belafonte, knows something the critics don’t. Or perhaps they are just hoping the SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark curse doesn’t follow them to their next performance.

The cast, especially Tierney, probably hopes the same. The production stars Reeve Carney as “Peter Parker/Spider-Man,” Tony® Award nominee Jennifer Damiano as “Mary Jane Watson,” T.V. Carpio as “Arachne” and Patrick Page as “Norman Osborn/Green Goblin”  Additional cast members include: Michael Mulheren, Ken Marks, Isabel Keating, Jeb Brown, Matthew James Thomas, Laura Beth Wells, Matt Caplan, Dwayne Clark, Luther Creek, Kevin Aubin, Gerald Avery, Collin Baja, Marcus Bellamy, Emmanuel Brown, Jessica Leigh Brown, Daniel Curry, Erin Elliott, Craig Henningsen, Dana Marie Ingraham, Ayo Jackson, Joshua Kobak, Megan Lewis, Ari Loeb, Natalie Lomonte, Kevin Loomis,Kristin Martin, Jodi McFadden, Bethany Moore, Kristen Faith Oei, Jennifer Christine Perry, Kyle Post,Brandon Rubendall, Sean Samuels, Dollar Tan, Joey Taranto, and Christopher W. Tierney.

It’s too early to tell whether the curse will extend to the “Music from SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark”  album which was released by Interscope Records on 14 June as well. The album, produced by Steve Lillywhite, features 14 original songs by Bono and The Edge.

Cursed or not, SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark deserves a round of applause just for making it to a historic opening night.

ABC’s Nightline got an exclusive, behind the scenes look at the revamped show, dubbed SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark 2.0.  We present it here to provide a more comprehensive look at what changes were made and why.

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