PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Nov. 16-22: Spider-Man to Fly Off Broadway and A Gentleman's Guide Opens

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22 Nov 2013

Julie Taymor
Julie Taymor
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

It took three years, but those predictions that Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark detractors made that the ever-beleaguered musical would shutter at a great loss have finally come true.

The multimillion-dollar musical, the most expensive in Broadway history, and a news magnet such as the theatre hasn't seen in a generation, will close Jan. 4, 2014, producers announced. Though the show was a good seller for a period of time — despite the hurricane of adverse press (actors injuries, set malfunctions, law suits, tell-all books, etc.) that swirled around it — and has been seen by about two million people, tickets sales have been less robust in recent months.

The show was capitalized at $75 million. According to reports, it will have historic losses of up to $60 million when it closes. 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. The investors are placing blame on the show's costly upkeep — the production averages a weekly cost of more than $1 million — and the musical's lackluster score by Bono and the Edge.

Producer Michael Cohl, while accepting the reality of the show's fate on Broadway, was guardedly sanguine about the show's prospects in Las Vegas, where it will have a production, and overseas. "I expect them to see some money back," he said of investors in a New York Times article. "But it will be a long road and take a long time."

Spider-Man began previews Nov. 28, 2010, and, in a record delay between first preview and premiere, officially opened June 14, 2011. The musical features a book by Julie Taymor (who was famously fired from the production, and subsequently sued producers), Glen Berger (who just published a backstage memoir telling his side of the story) and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (who was brought in to shore up the book), as well as music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge, who kept a wide berth between themselves and the musical during much of its run.

The production suffered numerous injuries during its preview period and following the opening, including cast members Christopher Tierney and, more recently, Daniel Curry. Amazingly, throughout all of the above tumult, some cast members stayed with the show through the entire run, including the seasoned pros Isabel Keating (as Aunt May), Ken Marks (as Uncle Ben) and Michael Mulheren (as J. Jonah Jameson). They surely now count as troupers' troupers.


Opening on Broadway this week was A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, a new musical comedy whose primary calling card is Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays, who puts on a tour de force by inhabiting eight different members of the doomed D'Ysquith family, who are being systematically killed off by ladder-climbing heir Monty Navarro, played by Bryce Pinkham. The score is by the relative unknowns Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, and the production, directed by Darko Tresnjak, is presented with an English music hall aesthetic, with plenty of tongue-in-cheek theatricality.

Critics were bewitched by the show's mordant charm. "Despite the high body count," wrote the Times, "this delightful show will lift the hearts of all those who've been pining for what sometimes seems a lost art form: musicals that match streams of memorable melody with fizzily witty turns of phrase. Bloodlust hasn't sung so sweetly, or provided so much theatrical fun, since Sweeney Todd first wielded his razor with gusto many a long year ago."


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