Can a Rewrite Save the Spider-Man Musical?

I think the producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark have figured out why no one’s ever attempted a superhero musical before. Geeky myths and high theatre just don’t mix very well. (I mean, seriously — when was the last time your favorite hero-in-tights suddenly stopped fighting his or her archnemesis so they could burst forth in song?) The story of Spider-Man‘s ascent to the Broadway stage is turning out to be even more epic than the play itself.

The latest twist: a new writer has been hired to take a pass at the play’s script, to address its weaknesses. Those who’ve seen preview showings of the musical have described it as having an “incoherent” plot that doesn’t service its legendary characters as well as they deserve. One famous review described the play as having a “fundamental disconnect” from its source material.

To fix this, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa will put his hand to the production’s “book” (the script). Aguirre-Sacasa is a well known comic book writer who’s worked on a number of prominent Marvel titles, including The Sensational Spider-Man. He’s also a respected playwright and a staff writer on HBO’s Big Love. Sounds like just the right person to bring the play in line with its pulpy roots.

In addition, back in mid-January, Bono and The Edge brought in high-profile British music producer Steve Lillywhite, to hone the show’s songs with the musicians and cast members. Since the songs have largely been panned as one of the show’s weakest links, Lillywhite’s involvement can only be a good thing.

But the big question remains: at this late point in the game (opening night is scheduled for March 15th, just a few weeks away), can Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark be saved? And perhaps more to the point: does it deserve to be?

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At least one positive outcome has come out of all the drama: the show has been selling out all of its preview showings.

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Robin Parrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

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