Broadway's most expensive musical opens today, but can audiences expect a flawless performance? Even Bono, who with bandmate The Edge composed the score for "SPIDER-MAN Turn Off the Dark," admitted to the Wall Street Journal today that "there is still a little ways to go."
Although if you've been chronicling the play's troubled production at all over the last year, Bono's remarks should come as no surprise. With woes that included horrific injuries suffered by several cast members, the departure of its director, as well as less-than-enthusiastic reviews from critics, these are the top 8 calamities that made "Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark" seem doomed from day one:
1. Producers arguably bit off more than they could chew from the beginning with the show's price tag. At $65 million, it's more than any Broadway show in history and caused relentless pressure for the show's success. The director Julie Taymor acknowledged that it was a huge undertaking from the start, telling The New York Times that the show had to be a massive hit with audiences to cover its costs.
2. Right before rehearsals began in July of last year, the public relations team headed by Broadway press agent Adrian Bryan-Brown resigned after working on the "Spiderman" project for three years.
3. Just before previews began in October, Kevin Aubin, a body double for Spider-man, was seriously injured during a demonstration for ticket brokers and sales agents. While performing a flying stunt, Aubin slammed into the stage after being catapulted into the air and broke both his wrists. Afterwards, a second actor admitted that he injured his feet performing the same flying stunt a month earlier. The injuries garnered enough media attention on the show's acrobatics that The New York State Department of Labor began safety inspections on the show's flying and safety devices.
4. The safety inspections caused the first delay of many of the show's opening. While performances were originally set to begin November 14, the opening date was ultimately pushed back to January. On November 28, the show held its first preview performance to lackluster reviews. David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter called it "chaotic, dull and a little silly," while The New York Times said "'Spider-Man' is not only the most expensive musical ever to hit Broadway; it may also rank among the worst." Even Bono told ABC's "Nightline", "We don't disagree with The New York Times."
5. Adding to an growing litany of injuries, Natalie Mendoza, a lead actress in the musical, was hit in the head by a piece of equipment hanging from a rope during the first preview performance. She suffered a concussion and had to take a two-week leave from the production. In late December, Mendoza, who played villainous spider-woman Arachne, decided to leave production permanently.
6. Just a few weeks later at another performance, Chris Tierney, one of the many actors who plays Spider-man in the musical, fell 20-30 feet while performing an aerial stunt. It was a near-death accident in which he broke multiple vertebrae and ribs and suffered fractures in his elbow, scapula and skull. An audience member told WABC that things went wrong towards the end of the performance.
"Spider-Man was about to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge to go catch Mary Jane," the audience member said. "She was falling in slow motion. He was supposed to swoop down and catch her. Instead his safety cord or cable seemed to have broke, and he went flying into the audience and he crashed down into a hole in the set."
Two following performances were canceled so crew members could put in a safety plan, costing roughly $400,000 in ticket sales according to The New York Times. Despite the injury, there was no immediate effect on box office sales of the musical.
7. In January, the "Spiderman" production team pushed back its opening a fifth time to March 15. Producers said that the delay was to fine-tune aspects of the show, including the new ending. Two months later, a sixth and final delay to June 14th followed several federal safety violations and the departure of its director, Julie Taymor.
8. In late March, T.V. Carpio, the actress who replaced Natalie Mendoza as Arachne, was injured during a battle scene on stage during a preview performance. She was the fifth castmate to sustain an injury since the show began production.