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'Spider-Man' musical director Julie Taymor steps down

Philip William McKinley will take over the long-troubled Broadway musical 'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark' as producers delay the official opening to 'early summer.'

March 10, 2011|By David Ng, Los Angeles Times

In the biggest changes yet to the troubled Broadway musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," its producers announced Wednesday that director Julie Taymor will be stepping down from her daily responsibilities with the production. They also postponed its official opening for the sixth time, to an unspecified day "in early summer."

Taking Taymor's place is Philip William McKinley, whose only Broadway credit is the 2003 musical "The Boy From Oz," which starred Hugh Jackman.

"Spider-Man," which began preview performances Nov. 28 at the Foxwoods Theatre in New York, has been plagued by production delays, cast injuries and a spiraling budget that, at $65 million, makes it the most expensive show in Broadway history. When "Spider-Man" continued to extend its preview period, playing to theatergoers who paid up to $135 for a ticket, many critics decided to review it before its opening date. The reviews were scathing.

In a statement, producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris stopped short of saying that Taymor was being dismissed from the show.

Taymor "is not leaving the creative team," the statement said. "Her vision has been at the heart of this production since its inception and will continue to be so." They said Taymor, who is also the show's co-writer, had "previous commitments" that prevented her from working "the 24/7 necessary to make the changes in the production in order to be ready for our opening." The new summer unveiling means that "Spider-Man" won't be eligible for the season's Tony Awards.

U2's Bono and the Edge, who wrote the score, will remain with the production but they are expected to revise the songs. The musicians said in a statement that "we have a couple of new songs we are very, very excited about putting into the mix.... We are confident [the show] will reach its full potential and when it does, it will open."

Despite its problems, "Spider-Man" has been doing strong business at the box office; attendance for the musical has yet to dip below 80% capacity, with many performances playing to a full house.

david.ng@latimes.com

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