Natalie Mendoza Departs Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark
By Andrew Gans
It's official. Natalie Mendoza, who was injured during the first preview of Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, has left the $65 million production permanently.
Lead producer Michael Cohl announced Dec. 30 what the New York Times had previously reported: Mendoza, who helped create the role of Arachne over the last six months, has decided to depart the new musical.
In a statement Mendoza said, “It has been a difficult decision to make, but I regret that I am unable to continue on Spider-Man as I recover from my injury. I wish Julie and the cast and crew every success with this production."
Director Julie Taymor added, “Natalie is a talented performer. We’ve appreciated her contributions to the show and we wish her all the best.”
Mendoza's concussion occurred during the first preview of the musical when, standing offstage, she was hit on the head by a rope that was holding a piece of the production's equipment. Against doctor's advice, she performed Dec. 1 but was unable to do so at the Dec. 2 performance at the Foxwoods Theatre. She returned to the show Dec. 16 but then experienced vocal problems and has not been in the production since Dec. 20, the performance that received worldwide attention when Christopher Tierney, a good friend of Mendoza's, was nearly killed when he fell 30 feet toward the end of the evening.
A replacement for Mendoza has yet to be named, although both her understudy America Olivo and T.V. Carpio have stepped into the part to date.
Mendoza's other theatrical credits include Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Coup d'Etat, Eponine in Les Misérables, Spelling Bee and more.
The musical, which is currently in previews, will officially open Feb. 7, 2011. Spider-Man, inspired by the Marvel comic-book character that first emerged in the 1960s, had originally been announced to arrive during the 2009 season, but was postponed due to financing. In addition to Mendoza and Tierney's injuries, other recent trouble included the injury of two actors during demonstrations of the show's flying techniques: One actor broke both his wrists, while the other broke both his feet.
Directed by Julie Taymor, the cast is headed by Reeve Carney as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Next to Normal Tony nominee Jennifer Damiano as Mary Jane Watson and Broadway veteran Patrick Page as Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin.
They are joined by Natalie Mendoza, Michael Mulheren, Ken Marks, Isabel Keating, Jeb Brown, T.V. Carpio, Mat Devine, Gideon Glick, Jonathan Schwartz, Matthew James Thomas, Laura Beth Wells, Matt Caplan, Dwayne Clark, Luther Creek, Gerald Avery, Collin Baja, Marcus Bellamy, Emmanuel Brown, Erin Elliott, Dana Marie Ingraham, Ayo Janeen Jackson, Heather Lang, Ari Loeb, Natalie Lomonte, Kevin Loomis, Kristin Martin, Jodi McFadden, Kristen Oei, America Olivo, Jennifer Perry, Kyle Post, Brandon Rubendall, Sean Samuels, Dollar Tan and Christopher Tierney.
Reeve Carney is the front man for the LA-based rock band Carney. Zane Carney (guitar), Jon Epcar (drums) and Aiden Moore (bass), who are also featured in that band, are part of the Spider-Man orchestra.
Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark features a book by Taymor and Glen Berger, and new music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge.
"Drawing from more than 40 years of Marvel comic books for inspiration," Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, according to press notes, "spins a new take on the mythic tale of Peter Parker, a teenager whose unremarkable life in Queens is turned upside-down — literally — when he's bitten by a genetically-altered spider and wakes up the next morning clinging to the ceiling. Bullied by his classmates and tortured by an unrelenting crush on next-door-neighbor Mary Jane Watson, this science geek discovers he has suddenly been endowed with astonishing powers. He soon learns, however, that with great power comes great responsibility. Maligned by the media, buffeted by financial woes, and stretched thin by the expectations of the world-at-large, Peter now must struggle to navigate the perilous and peculiar demands of being a web-slinging superhero."
The creative team comprises Daniel Ezralow (choreography), George Tsypin (scenic design), Academy Award winner Eiko Ishioka (costume design), Tony Award winner Donald Holder (lighting design), Jonathan Deans (sound design), Kyle Cooper (projection design), Julie Taymor (mask design), Campbell Young Associates (hair design), Judy Chin (makeup design), Scott Rogers (aerial design), Jaque Paquin (aerial rigging design), David Campbell (orchestrations & arrangements), Teese Gohl (musical supervision) and Kimberly Grigsby (music director).
Song titles include "Splash Page," "Behold and Wonder," "Bullying by Numbers," "No More," "D.I.Y. World," "Bouncing Off the Walls," "Rise Above," "Pull the Trigger," "Picture This," "I'll Take Manhattan," "Spider-Man Rising," "Turn Off the Dark," "Walk Away," "Think Again," "Sinistereo," "Deeply Furious," "If the World Should End," "The Boy Falls From the Sky" and "Love Me or Kill Me."
Producers are Michael Cohl & Jeremiah J. Harris, Land Line Productions, Hello Entertainment/David Garfinkle/Tony Adams, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Norton Herrick and Herrick Entertainment, Billy Rovzar & Fernando Rovzar Jeffrey B. Hecktman, Omneity Entertainment/Richard G. Weinberg, James L. Nederlander, Terry Allen Kramer, S2BN Entertainment, Jam Theatricals, The Mayerson/Gould/Hauser/Tysoe Group, Patricia Lambrecht, and Paul McGuinness by arrangement with Marvel Entertainment.
Tickets are priced $67.50-$135 for weekday performances and $67.50-$140 for weekend performances.
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