Turn off the Dark – The Curse of the Spider-Man Musical
Now, many of you who know me, know, I am a huge Spider-Man fan, have been my entire life, I have quite the collection of Spider-Man merch, which grows weekly, but I, like many other Spider-man fans, was truly surprised when I learnt that my favourite web-slinging superhero was going to be the basis of a Broadway musical!
“Spider-Man:Turn Off The Dark” is a lofty achievement indeed, a Broadway play like no other, it has been described by musical contributor and Co-Writer, U2's “The Edge” as “elements of rock and roll, it's elements of circus, it's elements of opera, [and] of musical theatre. “
In fact, this play has very strong musical performances, with songwriters including Bono and The Edge from U2, but it's real ability to impress theatregoers is the live action sets of Spider-Man swinging through the skyscrapers of New York, there is no less than 27 scenes of either Spider-Man, or The Green Goblin doing acrobatic flying scenes in this play!
The play has been fairly successful so far and has earned some terrific critical reviews, and fan accolades, but there is a darker side to this play, “Spider-Man:Turn Off The Dark” appears to have been cursed, with numerous accidents and deaths associated with its cast and its producers, a larger than average budget, the longest “preview” period in Broadway history ( a staggering 182 preview showings) and a lot of rewrites!
“Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” has been plagued with problems right from its conception back in 2002. Tony Adams was employed by Marvel to produce the big-budget spectacular musical. He approached Bono and Edge about writing music for the project, and they, in turn, approached Tony award winner, Julie Taymor to direct.
In 2005, just as contracts were about to be signed, Tony Adams suffered a stroke, which led to his death two days later. Although a huge blow early on, the creative team behind the musical decided to follow their instinct and carry on with Tony Adams partner, David Garfinkle, as the lead producer.
The Musical was then delayed numerous times in 2007, it is speculated and indeed stated anonymously (1), that this was due to “still unresolved creative decisions by the team head producer, Julie Taymor”.
By 2009 the budget had run into considerable debt, a staggering $25 million in the red, in March the same year, the show, which had never seen an audience had publicly announced a $52 million budget, a record for Broadway.
Disney, in 2009, began its takeover of the Marvel company, but, even though Disney had considerable success with its own musical stage shows, offered no interest in purchasing, or investing in the Spider-Man musical, leaving the production somewhat in financial limbo.
Bono then asked Michael Cohl (A Canadian Concert Promoter) to come on board as producer, who then raised the money needed to move forward. This fund-raising venture then, in turn, caused the production opening day to be postponed whilst funds were raised, from February 18th, 2010, pushed back until December 21st 2010.
By this stage, it was being reported that the budget of the show was a staggering $65 million and that costs were as high as 1 Million dollars a week.
Again, the show was postponed, this time until January 2011, then again until February 2011, due to “A tremendous amount of creative commotion behind the scenes”, which equated to rewrites, rehearsals, dialogue issues and some tweaking of the final number.
The production finally debuts on June 14th 2011, with an estimated costing of $75 million, the biggest budget ever recorded for a Broadway play, and like stated early, the longest running “preview” showing of any Broadway Musical in History!
Finances and rewrites were not the only issues plaguing this production, death (as we have seen earlier with Tony Adams) and injuries also plagued the cast and production. In November of 2010, cast member, Kevin Aubin broke both his wrists in a rehearsal presentation for ticket agents. He was sent flying through the air during the performance and crashed out of control in a “sling-shot” styled maneuver, the same flying performance would later injure another actor (who remains anonymous (2) ) breaking both his feet!
This led to further problems for the production with the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration fining the show for breaches of the workplace safety act.
Another cast member, Natalie Mendoza, was struck in the head by a piece of equipment in the very first preview performance of the production, causing concussion, Mendoza chose not to report the incident to the producers right away, but instead tried to perform the acrobatic flying sequences the following night, going against her doctor’s orders, only to find herself in trouble as her condition worsened.
She was replaced for the next two weeks by her understudy whilst she recovered and returned to the musical, only to quit after an injury to another cast member, at the end of December.
That incident was one of the more horrifying ones for the cast, actor Christopher Tierney was standing on a piece of scenery about 6 meters (20 feet) in the air, when he fell, his safety harness cord had not been attached, nor secured, leaving Tierney to plunge into the orchestra pit below, fracturing his skull and breaking four ribs, as well as damaging his back. Tierney was taken to a local medical centre and released for rehabilitation for his extensive back injuries on December 28th, 2011.
Another injury happened to T.V. Carpio, the actress portraying the villainess, Arachne. Carpio's injuries eventually led to her departure of the musical, whilst the exact injuries have never been disclosed, it is thought Carpio suffered a neck injury, possibly whiplash, or something similar from flying around the set during the production.
In July 2012, a technician working on the musical, Jason Lindhal, 27, committed suicide in the Hudson River, his fully clothed body was discovered floating near the George Washington Bridge.
In 2013, Daniel Curry, an actor on the stage show, suffered serious leg trauma after a piece of set equipment pinned him to the ground in an apparent stunt gone wrong accident.
Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, despite all of its bad luck, has gone on to be a critically acclaimed and much loved Broadway Musical showcase (although there are just many critics against the show as there is those for it), even spawning a CD and related merchandise, and becoming somewhat of a “pop-culture” reference in television shows, including nods in the recent “Ultimate Spider-Man” cartoon and in comic “Simpsons Super Spectacular 14” - where the show is lampooned and also in video game “Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom”, where if one plays as Deadpool against Spider-Man, Deadpool, if he wins states ”Maybe it would have helped if you turned off the dark”...
This is a Broadway “curse” to keep an eye on, for at the time of writing this, I don’t believe the “curse” story to be fully told...
researched and written by Allen Tiller in 2013
Revised 2017 - © 2017, Allen Tiller, Eidolon Paranormal