Julie Taymor and the Revenge of Spider-man
I have been patiently waiting to write about the $65 million Broadway musical tragedy that is currently known as “Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark” — but since the show may never officially open — the time is now to take a look at the ridiculous flop of a fantastic idea.
Spider-man director Julie Taymor — she also directed “The Lion King” on Broadway — was absolutely the wrong person to direct and write the musical. Her career is based on the precipice of putting Spectacle before Plot, and she has been getting away with it for years because audiences tend to let their eyes, instead of their minds, lead them astray into feigned entertainment.
When you rearrange Aristotle and place Spectacle over plot — as Taymor did — real people get hurt, and Spider-man has a horrible reputation of putting its actors in unnecessary peril:
T.V. Carpio, who stepped in to replace another actress injured in Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, has now herself been sidelined after an accident on stage.
Producers of the $65 million musical said Tuesday that Carpio was hurt March 16 during a battle scene with an actor. Details on her injury were not immediately available.
Carpio plays an evil spider woman called Arachne, one of the handful of large roles in the complicated, stunt-heavy production. She will be out of the show for the next two weeks and will be replaced by America Olivo.
Taymor has been removed from the show, but the musical is still stillborn on stage. The remedy for fixing Spider-man is to re-imagine the whole dramatic idea of the musical. Tear it down to build it up again.
Spider-man must be about emotion and relationships. Spider-man can never be about jumping on trampolines and swinging in the air as Taymor tried, and failed, in her telling. Spider-man is about the horror of morphing into something inhuman that has the slight, but righteous, chance to save humanity.
Spider-man must indicate the drama of duplicity. Peter Parker is torn in half by his devotion to his private life and to the pull of public outcry for his Superhuman salvation. Batman and Superman can afford to live ridiculous, Spectacular, lives because their birthright grants them that over-the-top preening.
Spider-man is about the bite of a radioactive arachnid and the lingering curse it brings to one boy’s ordinary life as he is forced to choose between the sacred love of his life and the anonymity of immortality. The dramatic tension of Spider-man must be the revelation of the internal grinding of conflicting human values poisoned by vengeance — and that can never be demonstrated, or dignified, or resolved, by flying through the air on a wire harness.
Julie Taymor’s “Spider-man Turn Off the Dark” Broadway musical was a failure the first moment Peter Parker’s feet left the stage — and so, in the end, Spider-man rightfully rakes his revenge against Taymor’s percussive Spectacle, and not the plotting of his on stage nemesis.
Turn off the lights on your way out.