Spider-Man Musical

The classic comic book hero’s stage adaptation has been plagued with problems since its inception. With its fourth cast member injury causing Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark to shut down Wednesday, The Daily Beast looks back at the musical’s many issues over the past six years.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo,Kathy Willens

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

Oct. 22, 2005: Original Producer Tony Adams Dies

Spider-Man on stage was seemingly doomed from the start. Legendary producer Tony Adams, who shepherded such trouble-prone projects as the Pink Panther movies to eventual greatness, initially acquired rights to the show. But just as the production was about to embark on its ill-fated voyage, the man at the helm was gone. While working out contracts with an all-star lineup in October 2005, Adams suffered a stroke and died two days later.

Walter McBride / Retna

Oct. 8, 2008: Biggest Broadway Budget Ever

With Julie Taymor directing, Bono and the Edge writing the score, and stage acrobatics that would make even Spider-Man’s head spin, the stage show was set from the beginning to be the most expensive theater production since the invention of theater. Its price tag of more than $40 million was enough to spook those involved into trying to rein in costs, but even then, producing the show was set to cost $1 million every week.

J.B Nicholas, Splash News / Newscom

Nov. 6, 2009: Michael Cohl Swings In

After the death of Tony Adams, Spider-Man was a ship without a captain. Adams’ attorney David Garfinkle took over as producer, and almost instantaneously, the problems started piling up. Julie Taymor’s boundless imagination confronted the very real boundary of a budget, but managed to blast right through it, sending the cost of producing the musical to more than $40 million. Setbacks were followed by setbacks in the logistically complex production, until finally, work came to an abrupt halt—Garfinkle had run out of money to pay the people building the set. Bono convinced his friend Michael Cohl to take over. The rock 'n' roll production vet immediately set out to raise funds to get the production back on track—by then the budget had hit $52 million.

Christopher Peterson, BuzzFoto / Getty Images

Mar. 10, 2010: Evan Rachel Wood Exits

Just as Spider-Man appeared to finally be getting back in the swing of things, the show lost its leading lady. True Blood’s Evan Rachel Wood left the role of Mary Jane, Spider-Man’s main squeeze, due to “a scheduling conflict,” according to producers. If Spider-Man was broken-hearted after his girl left him in the dust, the production never let it show—the search for Wood’s replacement began immediately.

Steve Granitz, WireImage / Getty Images

Apr. 19, 2010: Alan Cumming Follows Woods’ Lead

By April, it looked like the show was making a sport out of production troubles. Just as Spider-Man was beginning to recover after the break-up with Evan Rachel Wood, another split befell the production. Burlesque star Alan Cumming, who was cast as Spider-Man’s nemesis the Green Goblin, parted ways with the show. Again, a “scheduling conflict” was cited as the reason. As the production schedule continued to see delays, it’s not hard to see why.

Jacob Cohl

Sept, 2010: Stuntman Breaks a Foot (Or Two)

The bad luck continued. One of the nine actors who does Spider-Man’s stunts was injured in what he described as a “ flying glitch” in September. The actor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he broke his feet when he was catapulted from the back of the stage to the front, the same move that would later cause another performer to break his wrists.


Oct. 29, 2010: Another One Bites the Dust

Good thing there were nine stunt doubles for Spider-Man. Another actor was taken out of commission due to injuries in October—this time, with two broken wrists. Kevin Aubin took a spill when he was catapulted into the air from the back of the stage to the front, like the aforementioned anonymous star a month prior. Aubin posted a picture on Facebook of himself with his arms encased in casts from his palms to his elbows, saying: “well i dont know what im allowed to say. but something went wrong and i fell on my hands from a high distance. It happens, no one to blame. I’m alive and ok.”

Bruce Glikas, FilmMagic / Getty Images

Nov. 28, 2010: Curtains Up, Quality Down

Finally, after months of delays, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark got off to an inauspicious start when its first preview performance just after Thanksgiving ran three-and-a-half-hours long, stopped frequently for technical glitches that left actors dangling over the audience, and brought incomplete set pieces on stage. At one point, Spider-Man was supposed to rescue Mary Jane from atop the Chrysler Building, but part of the building was missing, and Mary Jane was nowhere to be seen. Then, when Spider-Man swooped onto the stage with Mary Jane in his arms, the dramatic exit was undercut by a wire malfunction that left him swinging above the audience, with three stagehands trying to grab his feet and pull him down.

Bruce Glikas, FilmMagic / Getty Images

Dec. 3, 2010: Starlet Suffers Concussion

It turned out the preview performance was even more disastrous than initially believed. In addition to myriad technical glitches, leading actress Natalie Mendoza, who plays Arachne, suffered a concussion when a rope struck her while she was standing backstage. Nevertheless, Mendoza went against her doctor’s advice and performed in a second preview before succumbing to headaches and nausea and handing things over to her understudy.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

Feb. 7, 2011: Will They Meet Their Release Date?

The umpteenth and most current opening date for the accident-prone show is now Feb. 7. Producer Michael Cohl announced the delay, explaining that “due to some unforeseeable setbacks, most notably the injury of a principal cast member, it has become clear that we need to give the team more time to fully execute their vision.” After Christopher Tierney’s injury, two officials from the New York State Department of Labor spent the day investigating the equipment at the theater. A spokesperson for the DOL told The Hollywood Reporter, “We’re going to find out the truth of what happened and we’re here to make sure it’s addressed.”