Throughout its Broadway lifespan, Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark has been a gift to theatre reporters. Even before the day it first swung into the Foxwoods Theatre, the long-aborning, ever-troubled, multi-million-dollar spectacle was generating one-of-a-kind headlines. And once it began performances, the news web became thicker and even more tangled: Creative team infighting; unprecedented delays; technical malfunctions; actor injuries; union investigations; direct dismissals; lawsuits and counter-lawsuits.
Earlier this fall, the producers announced they would close the Broadway production in early 2014. It was the latest headline in a year that produced a bucket of them. Next year, stage chroniclers (and the New York Post's Michael Riedel in particular) will have to find a new subject with which to fill their columns. In the meantime, here's a look back at the accidents, incidents and court battles that kept their laptops burning throughout 2013.
FEBRUARY 19: Former Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark stuntman and original cast member Richard Kobak, who, in a lawsuit, claimed he was injured during his run with the Broadway musical, sues Live Nation Worldwide and other companies for a total of $6 million. Kobak said that he sustained two herniated discs, a concussion, whiplash and holes in both knees as a result of errors by crew members in charge of programming the aerial rigging computer. The performer filled in for stuntman Christopher Tierney, who was injured at the Dec. 20, 2010, performance after falling 30 feet in the Foxwoods Theatre.
|Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
MARCH 19: A federal judge sets a May 28 trial date for the copyright infringement case involving Spider-Man original director Julie Taymor, composers Bono and The Edge and producers of the Broadway musical. In November 2011, the fired Taymor filed a lawsuit against the producers of the musical claiming that the producers violated her creative rights and did not compensate her for her work on the musical. In response to Taymor's suit, the producers filed an answer and countersuit, claiming that Taymor refused to fulfill her contractual obligations. A tentative deal settling the dispute over her role in the creation of the musical was reached with 8 Legged Productions, the producer, in August 2012, but terms were not released, and a document filed Aug. 30 in the U.S. District in Manhattan said the case could be re-opened if the agreement broke down. Judge Katherine B. Forrest of Federal District Court in Manhattan ordered March 15 that the parties may conduct discovery through May 1. The order came four days after the judge, during a closed-door session with the various sides, expressed frustration that they had not been able to settle disputes in August. APRIL 10: There will be no Spider-Man trial. Julie Taymor, Glen Berger and 8 Legged Productions LLC announced that the pending litigation between them has been settled by mutual agreement of all parties. The parties' settlement agreement resolves Taymor's claims against 8 Legged Productions in connection with her work on the book of the musical with respect to both the current New York production and subsequent productions. Details of the agreement were not announced.
MAY 15: Producers of Spider-Man are ordered by Justice Ellen M. Coin of State Supreme Court in Manhattan to turn over any relevant information to Richard Kobak, the stuntman who claims he suffered a concussion, whiplash and two holes in his knees while performing in the title role.
AUGUST 6: Technical misadventure returns to the Broadway production. The Aug. 6 evening performance of the high-flying musical is cancelled minutes before curtain due to technical difficulties.
AUGUST 15: The show is beset by yet another actor injury. The Aug. 15 performance was halted after a cast member was injured during a performance of the elaborate musical. Ambulances were seen outside the Foxwoods Theatre shortly after 9 PM. The FDNY reported that the actor was taken to Bellevue Hospital in serious condition, and that the individual's leg was pinned beneath backstage machinery. The actor is later identified as Daniel Curry. The musical resumes performances Aug. 16. SEPTEMBER 15: Producers announce at the Sept. 15 curtain call that Justin Matthew Sargent, who recently joined the company as the Peter Parker/Spider-Man Alternate, graduates to the production's full-time superhero, succeeding original star Reeve Carney. Sargent will play evening performances at the Foxwoods Theatre beginning Sept. 16. Carney played his final performance Sept. 15 in order to begin shooting the new HBO series "Penny Dreadful." Two open casting calls, in Los Angeles and New York, had been held to find Carney's replacement.
SEPTEMBER 18: Daniel Curry, the actor who sustained an onstage injury at the Aug. 15 performance of Spider-Man files court papers to ensure that the lift, which played a part in the accident, is not altered until it is examined. During the show's second act, Curry fell off the lift, and the stage closed in on his right ankle. The New York Times reports that, according to the Sept. 16 court papers, Curry "sustained fractured legs and a fractured foot, and has had surgeries and amputations as a result." The actor remains at Bellevue Hospital, where he was taken immediately after the incident.
OCTOBER 21: A concert and auction to benefit Daniel Curry is held in Manhattan at The Nuyroican Poets Cafe. Hosted by Robert Cuccioli and Christina DeCicco, the fundraiser features performers (and auction items) from Kinky Boots, Pippin and The Metropolitan Opera.
NOVEMBER 2: Theatre for a New Audience opens its new Brooklyn theatre with a new production of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Julie Taymor. It is the first major New York production helmed by Taymor since she was dismissed from Spider-Man. Reviews are enthusiastic. NOVEMBER 5: "Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History," playwright Glen Berger's tell-all memoir of his experiences working on the star-crossed production, hits the shelves. The book tells how "Berger was an eyewitness to great artistic hopes and battles as Taymor sought to bring her vision to the stage, along with celebrated rock stars Bono and the Edge." It is, said press materials, "the ultimate fly-on-the-wall account of how Broadway works, how big musicals are made, and how great artists continue to dream, even in the midst of a nightmare." Reviews of the book are mixed to positive.
NOVEMBER 18: It is announced that Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark will end its Broadway run Jan. 4, 2014. The show's next destination will be Las Vegas.
NOVEMBER 19: Spider-Man, the most expensive musical in Broadway history, capitalized at $75 million, will have historic losses of up to $60 million when it closes Jan. 4, 2014, it is reported. According to the New York Times, several investors said that they have not been paid back anything during the three-year run of Spider-Man and plan to write off their investments. Michael Cohl and the show's other lead producer, Jeremiah J. Harris, have been paid back portions of their multimillion-dollar priority loans. "I think the investors will eventually see something, but look, this is showbiz," Cohl told the Times. "I hope the show will be a huge hit in Vegas and Germany and on an arena tour, and then I expect them to see some money back. But it will be a long road and take a long time."
Click here to read "The Spider-Man Chronicles Part I," which recounts the first year of the musical's on and off-stage drama.