The opening of the $65-million musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has been delayed for a fifth time, to March 15, the show’s lead producers announced late today. Opening night previously had been set for Feb. 7.
According to The New York Times and other outlets, producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris said the opening was pushed back to allow more time to fine-tune parts of the show, “including a new ending.” The announcement came hours after it was reported that Grammy-winning record producer Steve Lillywhite had been brought in by Bono and director Julie Taymor to work with the performers on the music.
Preview performances scheduled for Jan. 18 and Jan. 25 also have been canceled outright.
“Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is ten times more complicated to tech than anything else,” Cohl said in a statement, “and the preview schedule allows for only very limited rehearsal time (twelve hours per week). We simply need more time to fully execute the creative team’s vision before freezing the show. I picked a date in March that allows me to ensure that this will be the final postponement.”
The delay is just the latest in a series of setbacks for the musical, which in addition to be the most expensive and technically complex in Broadway history now holds the record for most previews (they began on Nov. 28). Spider-Man has been plagued with troubles that date back to at least back to August 2009, when cash-flow obstacles forced the production to shut down, seemingly beginning a domino effect that led to repeated delays, the loss of two stars and a ballooning budget.
Safety concerns first emerged in October, around the time dancer Kevin Aubin broke both wrists in an aerial stunt gone wrong. During the coverage of that incident it was discovered that another performer had broken a foot during rehearsals. Then came November’s problem-filled first preview, during which actress Natalie Mendoza suffered a concussion, resulting in a two-week absence and, eventually, her departure. That was followed on Dec. 20 by the show’s worst mishap, when aerialist Christopher Tierney suffered extensive injuries after his harness snapped, sending him falling 30 feet.
Despite those problems, Spider-Man still managed to top last week’s Broadway box office, narrowly beating out the long-running musical Wicked.