In Their Own Words: How New Collaborators Taught Spider-Man to Fly Again

By Robert Simonson
29 Jun 2011

Chase Brock
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN


When you began work on Spider-Man, how did you view your job?
CB: I understood my assignment in the largest sense to be an opportunity to help focus the show on the story of Peter Parker and his truly extraordinary adventures, to help restore some of the beloved Spider-Man mythology that seemed to have been lost in the shuffle, and to help the show speak as clearly and effectively as possible to the very wide audience it attracts, from comic book readers to Broadway lovers to U2 fans. Technically speaking, I was there to create choreography and musical staging for new numbers and sequences, to re-choreograph certain moments, to serve as a choreographic editor, and to refine and recalibrate the movement, action, musical staging and choreography throughout the show.

In your opinion, what is the biggest change that you made to the show? Why was it important?
CB: The biggest obvious change I made to the show was re-choreographing many of the dances due to the major plot, structural and musical changes from the original version, but I took every aspect of this job very seriously, and worked as hard on musical staging and transitions and linking material as I did on big musical numbers and choreography; in fact, I suspect my biggest contribution to the show actually comes in the many small and subtle moments that I helped to focus, clarify, develop, extend, deepen and sharpen, many of which are probably not immediately recognized as "choreography," but which cumulatively help to propel the narrative forward and reinforce the themes of our show.

Reeve Carney
photo by Jacob Cohl

Describe what a typical early day of rehearsal was like, during the period the show was closed.
CB: There were only five days of regular rehearsal while the show was closed, and on those days I typically worked with the full company on choreography and staging for big production numbers like "Spider-Man!" and "A Freak Like Me" in the mornings, watched and took notes on daily run-throughs in the afternoons, and rehearsed and worked on problem areas (based on that afternoon's notes) in the evenings. The other two weeks during the period the show was closed were devoted to technical rehearsals in the theatre.

At what point, did you know you were headed in the right direction? Why did you feel that?
CB: One of the most bolstering moments early on was the first read-through of the new script with the principals and featured ensemble members, and I think we all felt the optimism and relief and excitement in the room that day. Specifically, we were reacting to the clarity of the plot, the humor in the new dialogue, the effectiveness of the existing songs in their new context, the more emotional interaction between characters, and the cumulative impact of the many changes, large and small, that had been made throughout the show.

When the audience returned, did their reaction to your work surprise you at all? If so, how?
CB: I've been delighted by the nightly audience response to the show, which I think is a testament to the hard work of everyone on the creative team, in the cast and on the crew. Spider-Man is a truly collaborative theatre event every single night and a real example of teamwork and triumph under genuinely extraordinary circumstances. I'm extremely proud and honored to be a part of that.

Opening night coverage of Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark: