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4th delay on 'Spider-Man' Broadway opening

"Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark" is being delayed,

"Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark" is being delayed, again, from its Jan. 11, 2011 opening night. Credit: Getty

It's off again for the on-and-off "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." According to a source close to the production, the troubled $65-million musical has postponed its Jan. 11 opening at least through the month. This will be the fourth postponement for Broadway's most expensive and technically complicated show.

Rumors of the delay surfaced Wednesday when the Hollywood Reporter quoted one of the producers, David Garfinkle, as saying the opening date "will likely be pushed back again" to allow more work to be done on director Julie Taymor's staging, the book and the music by U2's Bono and The Edge.

Wednesday night's performance introduced a new flying scene in the second act for Peter Parker/Spidey and the villainous spider Arachne in a giant web. Further work is expected on the finale.

The show was originally scheduled to open last January, but financial problems set it back until this fall. The scale of the show's problems became public at the first preview on Nov. 28, when the production had to stop five times to fix flying sequences and other technical problems. Also that night, Natalie Mendoza, who plays Arachne, suffered a concussion offstage when she was hit with a rope. She had been out of the show until Wednesday night.

She was the third casualty of the show. During rehearsals a dancer broke both wrists during a flying sequence, and another injured his foot on the same trick.

Despite all the problems, the show has been performing well at the box office, taking in more than $1 million in the 24 hours after negative reports of the first preview. Last week it played to 99.4 percent capacity and grossed $911,681.

It is not known how long critics will allow the show to continue in previews without reviews. When productions of "Merlin" (1983) and "Nick & Nora" (1991) had what was considered an excessive number of previews, the press protested and reviewed before the official openings.

Adam Feldman, president of the New York Drama Critics Circle and critic for Time Out/New York, told Newsday, "I think we all want to give the creators the time they need to make the show good. Speaking just for myself, however, there may be a time to become a consumer reporter. The tickets cost a lot, and the preview period cannot go on indefinitely."

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