Carson and Barnes Circus, in the 1960s

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Spider-Man's My-Way-Only Director Crash Lands Out the Stage Door; Ringling's Wm. Mckinley to Re-Direct Troubled Tunner; Script Doctor On the Way


A sensational tale of Broadway hubris that keeps on giving: Spider-Man's opening date has been again postponed, to early summer.

Show's famed director Julie Taymor is out, and is making no comment. According to breaking news just reported in the New York Times, she refused to cooperate when producers and cast members appealed to her to consider making suggested changes to a seriously flawed script. Critics called the second act, in particular, a disaster.

In to take over on staging is Philip William McKinley, who directed Hugh Jackman in The Boy From Oz in 2003, which ran a modest eleven months on Broadway, not the brightest of omens. McKinley, has also staged several editions of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, most notably the sleek, top-of-the-line Boom-A-Ring, which drew mostly raves from the few critics who reviewed it at Coney Island, summer of 2009. It was about the best American circus I've seen in ages.

Most tellingly, story suggests that McKinley may have been hired because the producers want not less but more "thrilling spectacle."

What to make of all this? For what it's worth, Boom-A-Ring (whether actually directed by McKinley, or really by Kenneth Feld) revealed a disciplined directorial hand at work, guiding a taut steady flow of circus action, sans the usual Feld fireworks and Vegas victory legs that adorn a Feld sawdust smorgasbord. Spider-Man, from all accounts, gets lost in the narrative-dead second half, going no where around in circles. (Perhaps McKinley will bring Mr. Feld with him for additional input -- and rigging.)

Cracked one disgruntled would-be customer to the real-life spectacle as originally reported here by Kitty, "We are still not going if nobody's going to really get injured from a stunt. That's a lot of money to pay for a ticket where all you get is a musical."

In past years, McKinley performed in Las Vegas.

Spider-Man's libretto will receive script doctoring from playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who holds no Broadway credits; the Times story links him nebulously to I'ts a Bird ... It's a Plane .. It's Superman, a 1966 flop. He evidently worked on a revised script for a planned revival of the show that did not pan out.

When all is finally delivered up to the belated bright nights and gawking Broadway voyeurs of an "opening night," only a miracle will turn this turkey into a -- profitable turkey.

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