x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Spider-Man returns as a musical

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the most expensive musical ever produced, was finally unveiled to the public last week after a series of events pushed back the previews by almost a year.

Reeve Carney plays Peter Parker and Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Courtesy FilmMagic
Reeve Carney plays Peter Parker and Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Courtesy FilmMagic

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the most expensive musical ever produced, was finally unveiled to the public last week after a series of events pushed back the previews by almost a year.

The show, which will officially open early next year, has suffered a series of set backs; from reports of cast members being injured during rehearsals to spiralling production costs - some reports put the final figure at around $65 million (Dh238m). But that's not all.

Directed by Julie Taymor, who became the first woman to win the Tony award for Best Director of a Musical, for The Lion King, the show is also expected to cost somewhere in the region of $1m a week to keep afloat, no doubt further adding to the pressure its creators must be feeling for it to be a commercial success.

Still, the fact that a dress rehearsal of the show was apparently given the thumbs up by Stan Lee, the legendary comic book writer who first introduced the superhero to the world almost half a century ago, must help its chances among the Spider-Man fans of the world.

Throw in the music by multi-million album selling artists, U2's Bono and The Edge, and things look even more promising for Spidey and co. But just what is it about the painfully shy high-school-boy-turned-hero, Peter Parker, that has won over the hearts, and cash, of so many people?

Stand him next to the likes of Batman, with his deep brooding voice and Batmobile, or Wolverine, the X-Men hero with his retractable blades and rock star persona, and Spidey, with his ever so slightly naff blue and red costume, should pale in comparison. But that's part of the secret of his success. Spiderman allows his fans to see a bit of themselves in him a lot more easily than Wolverine, with his regenerative powers, or Bruce Wayne, the tormented multi-millionaire. But Peter Parker, with his unrequited love of the girl next door, Mary Jane Watson, his puny appearance, and his low-key existence?

Over the decades, as his popularity has grown, Spider-Man has made the leap from comics, to novels, to cartoon shows, and, naturally, the big screen.

In perhaps his most famous incarnation to date, he was portrayed by the doe-eyed actor Tobey Maguire, in a series of films released by Sony Pictures, the last of which was released in 2007, and all of which made huge profits at the worldwide box office.

Directed by the horror auteur Sam Raimi, the trio of films made A-list stars of its cast as well as becoming the most commercially successful movie adaptations of a Marvel comic ever. Plans for a fourth outing were, we are sad to report, nipped in the bud after Raimi decided he had had enough spider action for one lifetime.

But, as they say, every spider web has a silver lining. Barely had a million comic book lovers created miniature voodoo dolls with Sam Raimi's name on them, before those clever cookies at Sony announced plans for a series of prequels. Starring The Social Network actor Andrew Garfield as Parker, the first of the rebooted series of Spiderman movies (all of which are guaranteed box office hits) is due for release in 2012. As for the broadway show, the flurry of mixed reviews from fans who attended the preview last weekend make us think Taymor still has some tweaking to do. Playing to a full house - which included the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband, Matthew Broderick, the show drew a variety of responses from members of the audience. Between comparisons to the famous acrobatic troupe, Cirque du Soleil, and reports of people asking for their money back, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, still has some way to climb up that water spout to success.