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Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark Ends Its Broadway Run

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Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark ends its Broadway run at the Foxwoods Theater today, after more than three years and 1,200 performances. It has generated  more jokes, more outrage,  more news and commentary, more headlines — more words written and spoken — than any Broadway musical in at least half a century, and perhaps ever.

Troubled by bad luck, grandiose choices, shocking injuries, internal bickering and a raft of lawsuits, the musical based on a beloved Marvel comic book character has broken all sorts of records, both good and bad. It was the fastest show to be seen by a million theatergoers (as it ends, some two million have seen it on 42nd Street.) It also had the longest preview period (182 performances) with the largest number of scheduled and canceled opening nights in Broadway history. It set records for the highest attendance and the greatest box office receipts at any Broadway show in a single week (17,375 theatergoers; $2,941,790.20 in receipts.) It was the most costly Broadway musical ever produced (initially $75 million) and, although it has  taken in more than $200 million at the box office, it is likely to be the biggest money-loser (reportedly as much as $60 million) that ever played on the Great White Way. It is also surely the most critically panned Broadway musical (twice) ever to have so long a run.

The tale of the making and unmaking of Spider-Man — with director Julie Taymor sometimes seen as its tragic heroine, sometimes as its villain — has alternately fascinated, amused, enraged and bored millions. Are there any lessons to be learned? “Before something can be brilliant, it first has to competent” is at the top of the list by Glen Berger, who with Taymor and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is credited as the author of the musical (with Bono and The Edge of U2 as the composers and lyricists.) Berger recently published the tell-all book Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History, which is  370 pages long.

So many events have occurred in connection with the musical, that Playbill ran two timelines, one timeline for the first year,  and another timeline for the final year.

Even as it was winding down in New York City after one of its lead producers announced on November 18th that it would close, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark has generated more headlines. The restauranteur Joe Allen issued a statement that got wide coverage:

Joe Allen before his flop wall

Joe Allen before his flop wall

“A lot of people have been asking if we are going to put SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark on the flop wall, so let me say, once and for all: absolutely not. Any show that plays for three years on Broadway, providing steady employment to members of the theater community and pumping money into the local economy, is no failure in my book.”

Justin M Sargent, the last Broadway Peter Parker/Spider-Man, donning his costume for the first time.

Justin M Sargent, the last Broadway Peter Parker/Spider-Man, donning his costume for the first time.

The Smithsonian announced that the Spider-Man costume, designed by the late Eiko Ishioka and worn by actor Reeve Carney, would be inducted into the permanent collection at the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C., taking its place alongside some three million “national treasures,” including Abraham Lincoln’s top hat, Dizzy Gillespie’s trumpet,  Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, and Jim Henson’s Kermit the Frog puppet. The costume won’t be lonely; there is other Spider-Man memorabilia to make the Smithsonian — both a thermos bottle and a lunch box that already features this Marvel Comic’s superhero — and certainly other artifacts from Broadway, such as Ann Miller’s tap shoes, made in 1939.

Here is a one-minute video of Ishioka explaining her design

Whatever else anybody has said about Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, nobody has questioned the talent, fortitude and sheer endurance of the members of the cast.

Original Broadway cast, including T.V. Carpio, Reeve Carney, Jennifer Damiano, Patrick Page, and Michael Mulheren

Original Broadway cast, including T.V. Carpio, Reeve Carney, Jennifer Damiano, Patrick Page, and Michael Mulheren

Here Matthew James Thomas, the original alternate Peter Parker/Spider-Man, now the star of Pippin, sings three songs from the show, “Bouncing Off the Walls” and “Rise Above” in the first video, then “Boy Falls From The Sky” the second, alongside Katrina Lenk, Kristen Faith Oei, Jodi McFadden, Laura Beth Wells, Christopher King, Emmanuel Bown, and Daniel Curry

Check out the choreography starting at 2:20

Here are Jake Odmark and Jodi McFadden singing Rise Above

Here’s a video montage uploaded three days before the official opening of June 14, 2011:

Lead producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris plan to open a production of the musical in Las Vegas sometime in 2015.

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About New York Theater
Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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