<i>Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark</i> to lose Geek Chorus in overhaul

The sweeping changes to Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will include the elimination of one of Julie Taymor's signature elements, the widely panned Geek Chorus.

Based on the troubled musical's four original creators -- Taymor, her co-writer Glen Berger, Bono and the Edge -- the geeks are four comic-book fans who make up the plot as the story unfolds, serving as a device to cover the show's complicated scenery changes while doling out chunks of exposition. As practical as their purpose might be, they were described by some critics as "useless" and "utterly superfluous."

The New York Times reports the four actors -- Mat Devine, Gideon Glick, Alice Lee and Jonathan Schwartz -- were told Thursday night that the Geek Chorus will be cut when the $70-million production goes on hiatus on April 18. The newly expanded creative team, led by director Philip William McKinley, Berger and script doctor (and comics writer) Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, apparently has found a way to execute scenery changes without the aid of the chorus. According to Broadway World, there's no word yet on what will happen to the performers once their roles are dropped.

The loss of the geeks is only the first in what's expected to be a wave of major changes made in the wake of Taymor's departure on March 9. Green Goblin's confusing story arc will reportedly be clarified, the unpopular “Deeply Furious” number cut, and the role of the eight-legged villainous Arachne reduced if not eliminated entirely (The Times says the character, another of Taymor's signature creations, "is expected to remain, for now, though as a scaled-back character"). Bono and the Edge are also writing at least two additional songs.

In another change, Broadway World confirms that Chase Brock is replacing original choreographer Daniel Ezralow, a Taymor loyalist who designed the show's complex flying sequences.

Spider-Man will return from its three-week hiatus on May 12, and continue preview performances until the scheduled opening night on June 14.

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