Julie Taymor: The Charlie Sheen Of Broadway

I know stories about the Spider-Man musical have worn out their welcome even more than Charlie Sheen stories; at least we can see his show (given how often it’s on in syndication, we have to work hard to avoid it), whereas most sensible people will stay away from ever seeing Spider-Man. Still, it looks like Taymor is going to be forced out of the show she directed and co-wrote, the show where she turned a familiar pop-culture character into a side attraction.

(Update: I should clarify that the flippant Charlie Sheen comparison had to do with getting fired from a show completely built around her. Nothing to do with personal lives.)

It’s a little amazing. Plenty of directors and writers are forced out or forced to accept help, but until Bono turned against her (or that’s the impression these stories give anyway) Taymor was allowed to do virtually anything she wanted. Now the producers are finally running it like a real show where you replace people and write new songs and so on, but it may be too late; it is, if nothing else, one of the worst-produced shows in theatre history, since it’s the producer’s job to make sure they do this kind of thing before too much time and money has been wasted.

For those who find the Spider-Man story dull now but find theatre tryout stories interesting — I do, because even though I didn’t see the shows, I love how exposed and public the whole process is — I’d like to call attention again to this 1993 New York Times story on the Spider-Man of the early ’90s, the musical version of The Red Shoes. The producer of that show fired many key people, including director Susan Schulman (a recent fixture at Stratford, who has done a lot of their musical revivals) and re-tooled the whole thing from a quasi-feminist reinterpretation of the movie to a more straightforward re-telling of the film’s story. But though the show bombed and lost a ton of money, at least the producer was doing what producers of such a big show are supposed to do when there are creative conflicts: step in and take one side instead of the other, and retool the whole thing in keeping with the side that wins.

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