Another <i>Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark</i> delay seems all but certain

When even the show's most vocal defender is reporting on an apparent sixth delay for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, you begin to think there's something to the growing belief that the $65 million musical won't officially open until June.

Roger Friedman, a longtime friend of director Julie Taymor who's used his Showbiz411 website to chastise theater critics and counter reports by the New York Post's Michael Riedel, now says the March 15 date -- described in January by lead producer Michael Cohl as "the final postponement" -- is being called a "Hope-ening."

"One source says every time the show doesn’t open they call it a 'Faux-pening'," Friedman writes this morning. He frames the move as a way to sidestep the April 28 deadline for the Tony Awards while giving the creative team more time to retool the show as much as possible within the constraints of the highly complex mechanics: "I am told that the feeling is that week to week the show is selling well enough ($1.55 mil last week.) that opening now, getting panned again, and then getting snubbed by the Tonys -- which is likely -- is worse than just staying the course and continuing to make improvements."

This latest delay was perhaps telegraphed early last month by a wave of negative reviews, followed by reports that comics writer and playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa had been approached to rewrite the book, and the hiring of veteran conductor and musical supervisor Paul Bogaev.

The troubled production, which has been plagued by mechanical glitches, injuries and cast departures as well as delays, was cited Friday by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for three serious safety violations for four separate incidents last year -- including the one in which Christopher Tierney plunged from a platform on stage, breaking ribs and fracturing his skull. Producers were fined $12,600, a drop in the bucket for the most expensive show in Broadway history.

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