Reports: Taymor leaving <i>Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark</i>, producers shutting down musical for overhaul [Updated]

Besieged director Julie Taymor will leave Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark as producers prepare to shut down performances for two to three weeks to overhaul the $65 million musical, multiple sources report. However, The New York Times now contends she could remain in some capacity, "perhaps in name only," following her rumored resignation Tuesday night.

The news follows two days of negotiations that were believed to center on the Tony Award-winning Taymor either working with an expanded creative team to retool production, or possibly exit the show she co-wrote and shepherded to Broadway. "Taymor is out. She's left the building," a source close to the production tells the New York Daily News.

The shutdown dates for Spider-Man, which was supposed to open March 15, are expected to cover late April and early May, The Times reports. However, a spokesman sticks by the line that "the opening night is still scheduled for March 15." A shutdown would mean a loss of about $1.3 million a week -- although still in previews, Spider-Man is one of the highest-grossing shows on Broadway -- and push the production past the April 28 deadline for Tony Awards eligibility (apparently not a concern). Producers are now thought to be eyeing a June opening date, the show's sixth.

According to the New York Post's Michael Riedel, who's gleefully chronicled the show's many misfortunes, Taymor will be replaced by Christopher Ashley (Xanadu, The Rocky Horror Show). Comics writer and playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa "will have a go at Taymor's baffling script, for which he's being paid about $20,000," while veteran conductor and musical supervisor Paul Bogaev will continue to work with Bono and the Edge, and help improve the performance, arrangements and sound quality.

Showbiz411's Roger Friedman, a longtime friend of Taymor and a vocal defender of the production, writes that her departure "would be a terrible mistake": "Spider Man is her show. Anyone who comes in will have to face that fact. The flying, the costumes. the sets, the 3D comic book life of the show -- all belong to her. The tragedy in this is that Taymor, like most creative geniuses, may  have gotten lost along the way. She needs a collaborator -- an editor, really -- to shorten the first act, create a cliffhanger, and rearrange TV Carpio’s wonderful Arachne so she joins the plot organically and isn’t a speed bump in Act One. [...] The great fun of Spider Man is still in Taymor’s vision. Lose that now and the show’s main purpose will be gone too."

Official announcements are expected later today.

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