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Spider-Man ... the musical?

Published:Sunday | September 5, 2010 | 12:00 AM
U2 frontman Bono, whose music will be featured in 'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark'. - File


There was a time when Hollywood turned to Broadway for movie ideas, transforming shows like Chicago and The Sound of Music into box-office gold and Oscar winners.

These days, theatre producers look to the film community for juicy stage projects, turning movies like The Producers and Hairspray into Tony winners.

The new Broadway season is no exception. Among shows opening this fall are Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, based on the comic book and movie franchise; Elf: The Musical, inspired by the outrageous Will Ferrell comedy; and Pedro Almodovar's 1988 film farce, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

Meanwhile, Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical, adapted from the 1994 road movie about drag queens, a transsexual and their cabaret act, opens for a pre-Broadway run in Toronto, Canada, on October 26. It was first adapted for the stage in 2006 for a run in Sydney, Australia, and most recently had a successful turn on London's West End.

Jumping hurdles

Many eyes, though, are on the $50 million-plus Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which was in the works for six years and long hung in limbo as it jumped financial hurdles. Based on the Marvel comic book hero, Spider-Man features music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge, with a book by its director, Julie Taymor, and Glen Berger.

U2's Bono and The Edge are cutting their teeth writing show tunes. The jump may not be so far, given the appeal of the hit series Glee and its occasional ability to transform rock anthems into show music. So, it is not hard to believe that the Irish rockers can retrofit their stadium-oriented rock into the more intimate musical theatre.

The big budget musical extravaganza boasts one of the largest budgets in Broadway history and bursts with producers that include Marvel Entertainment and Sony Entertainment. Above the pack is lead producer Michael Cohl.

The cast once included Evan Rachel Wood, known as both Queen Sophie-Anne Leclerq on TV's True Blood, and the on-again, off-again girlfriend of Marilyn Manson. Alan Cumming was slated as the villainous Green Goblin, but has been replaced by Patrick Page, the namesake of the Broadway version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Spider-Man opens in the newly named Foxwoods Theatre. Perhaps the name change for the cavernous venue will bring a change of fortune because, until this year, the Hilton Theatre, as it was previously called, had been a place where shows went to die. Young Franken-stein played for a lackluster 485 performances, while other shows became more immediate casualties. The Pirate Queen (85 performances) and Hot Feet (97 performances) barely hit their stride. Interestingly, the theatre's earlier moniker, the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts, saw a successful revival of 42nd Street that ran for 1,524 performances.

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark begins previews on November 14 and will open on December 21.