PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark I Spy a Spidey on Broadway

By Harry Haun
15 Jun 2011

Buy this Limited Collector's Edition
Page's last Broadway role was Henry VIII, opposite Frank Langella's Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons, but "whenever I'm in the building that used to be the Hilton Theatre, I go green" (meaning, this is the place where he first hissed up a storm in Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!).

His Green Goblin was originally killed off at the end of Act Two, but in the script Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa revised with Glen Berger, he lives to wreak havoc another act. Bono and The Edge created a new song to sally forth with, "A Freak Like Me Needs Company," and Page was delighted. "I don't think you'll ever talk to an actor who wants his role shorter. This song's great fun for me. It's the kind of song I would never get to sing otherwise — a Lady Gaga-Boy George type of club song. It's a blast. To work with Bono and Edge was great."

The choreography on land and air is by Daniel Ezralow, who is racking up his fourth collaboration with Taymor. Together, they've done film ("Across the Universe"), Broadway (The Green Bird) and opera (The Flying Dutchman). For him, the hardest thing about this project was the time it took.

"It was four years of development. I think the concept was that we wanted to push Broadway…we wanted to expand the vision of what could happen with three-dimensionality, with George Tsypin's sets and the things in the air. It was a real coup to be able to do this kind of flying. I'm very happy with the way the audience reacts, and I'm really happy that I have the ability to choreograph dances and aerial work. I started experimenting with aerial myself with bungees about 15 or 20 years ago and made many pieces and understood rigging and flying.

"But the team effort together was Scott Rogers and Jaque Paquin — Scott from the 'Spider-Man' movies and Jaque from Cirque du Soleil. I knew we needed both the movie accuracy and we needed Jaque to know the theatrical thing. We had to trigger one Spider-Man into another Spider-Man.

"I'm very sad about the accidents. Everybody is. When you look at a circus show, there are accidents. You just never hear about them, but we were under the scrutiny so much of the Broadway world. I've to forgive and give blessings we got through it."

Chris Tierney
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Chris Tierney, who took the big fall in the early previews but bounced relatively like new for the opening, looked very much like the poster boy for getting back on the horse — or, at least, in the harness. "I did all the major flying aerial stunts inside the theatre. I fought Green Goblin at the end of the show. I am Kraven the Hunter, one of the super-villains, and I'm one of the bullies at the beginning," he crowed. "I come from good, healthy stock. My body tends to heal quite quickly. I have a strong fortitude. I like to get back and in shape. I kinda like to say, 'I got you,' to anybody who tries to tell me that I can't recover that fast." Boeing-boeing, buddy!

Jennifer Damiano, who's Mary Jane Watson, girlfriend of Spider-Man's alter-ego, Peter Parker, also has a touch of flying fever — a mild touch. "My favorite part of the show — definitely — is the end where I fly in with Peter. It's a lot of fun."

Otherwise, the character is pretty grounded and focused on her acting career, but a certain sweetness seeps through that's new to Damiano, who climbed aboard from the dark cloud of Next to Normal. "I guess I am a little used to the darker, more antsy characters," she conceded, "but it's so much fun to access that part of myself. I don't know where to begin comparing this to my character in Next to Normal, but I've been lucky to kinda stretch myself in this other direction."

For a Broadway first-timer, title player Reeve Carney is being accorded a privilege allotted to stars like Dustin Hoffman in The Merchant of Venice and Linda Ronstadt in The Pirates of Penzance: The degree of difficultly demands that he only do it six times a week instead of the usual eight.

"I wouldn't want to have to do eight performances in this show," he readily admitted. "This show is pretty demanding. The rock 'n' roll singing style is pretty taxing on the vocal chords. And then the acrobatics! I do a lot of acrobatics, but still we need nine other guys to do the whole show. And I do a good deal of the flying in the show. Yeah, it's physically exhausting, but it's very rewarding as well."

Taymor tapped Carney to play Prince Ferdinand in her film "Tempest" last year and tapped a second time for Spider-Man. "That film was why I wanted to work on this. I had such a good time working on 'The Tempest.' When she called me in for this audition, I thought, 'Oh, man, it would be such a joy to work with Julie again.' And I've gotten that chance. I hope I get to work for her for years to come. And I hope I get to work with Phil for years to come. He was a great addition to the show."

Broadway debuts have been much easier than Carney's. He went into rehearsal for this July 19 and only June 14 officially turned into a Broadway actor. "I don't know if it's all sunk in yet, but it felt like we've really opened. And it's my first time being in a show that's opened, even though we've had 184 performances. We did it, all of us, and we did it as a team. It definitely feels like winning the World Series tonight."

View highlights from the show: