Reports were confirmed last night that director Julie Taymor has departed the Spider-man musical which she had been working on for years. The visionary directory who rose to the stratosphere of her profession when she directed The Lion King which is still bringing in the bucks on Broadway and all over the world, has been in the cross hairs for some time as the most expensive show on Broadway struggles to find its footing.
Shows flop on Broadway all the time. It’s part of the legend of the business. But $65 million musicals created by someone of Taymor’s stature along with Bono and The Edge of U2, can’t go down in flames. There is just too much at stake.
Taymor is a visonary. No one is doubting that. But the sad news is that it seems that at this moment the vision of the director is not moving the show forward. Directors get replaced to shake up a show or a movie, but it is very hard to replace Taymor completely because she is so integrated into the fabric of the show. She co-wrote the book, she designed the masks.
No woman — or man — has attempted to accomplish what Taymor set out to do and it seemed from the beginning that folks were gunning for her head on a platter. The problem is that the show that has become the talk of the town not for what is happening onstage, but for what may or may not happen above the stage. People are intrigued to see the stunts and if they happen, and sadly, last night to insult to injury the show was stopped again for technical problems.
So they brought in a new team. The director of record will be Philip William McKinley who directed the The Boy From Oz several years back. He also has experience with the circus. The press release says that he has “vast experience directing technically complex productions on Broadway and beyond.” Sure, right. This choice makes no sense to me. They also brought in a new book writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa who actually has written Spider-man comic book so that makes a little more sense. Now if you look at the creative team it is practically all boys which I guess would make it just like the Spider-man movies and other super hero flicks.
The whole situation is very sad. It’s not easy to create artistic endeavors under the blinding media scrutiny. Taymor hit big withThe Lion King and became who she is today because no one really expected it. She had been an avant-garde director who was able to transfer her vision to the Broadway stage. This time the vision, the visionary and the show just could not make it happen.
I for one will be waiting to see what she does next.
Precipitous Fall for ‘Spider-Man’ Director (NY Times)