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After 16 months, Broadway's 'Spider-Man' finally set to debut

Spider-man

Spider-man Photo Credit: Nicholas Grant

It may be "super" late, but "Spider-Man" is finally ready for its Broadway opening. 

After 16 months of delays, cast-member injures, and a makeover, "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark" will finally open Tuesday at the Foxwoods Theater on 42nd Street.

It only took the $75 million musical with songs by Bono and The Edge a record-breaking 182 preview performances to iron out the legendary problems that made it the laughing stock of Broadway.

But since producers replaced director Julie Taymor with circus director Philip William McKinley and retooled the show during a three-week hiatus, the buzz about "Spidey" has been more positive.

Instead of being a complete product of Taymor's avant-garde imagination, it has been reshaped into a superhero stunt spectacular with fewer artistic pretenses.

Taymor's original version was marred by confusing sequences that emphasized her trademark avant-garde theatricality and various mythological touches instead of the original characters. The new version is designed to be an easygoing, family-friendly spectacle
with mass audience appeal. Fans of the "Spider-Man" comics and movies will likely recognize and approve of the reworked plot.

It is assumed in the industry that it will be impossible for “Spider-Man” to make a profit during its Broadway run. However, its producers are expected to eventually mount the show internationally and in large sports arenas.

"Firing the director, and shutting down the show when they were already doing one million plus per week is a sign that the producershad some super powers of their own," said producer Ken Davenport, whose revival of "Godspell" will open on Broadway in the fall. "They wanted their show to be better.And they wouldn't stop until they could be
proud of what was on that stage."

Since it never officially opened, “Spider-Man” was not eligible for consideration at the Tony Awards on Sunday night. However, Reeve Carney and Jennifer Damiano got to sing a ballad, and host Neil Patrick Harris dedicated 30 seconds exclusively to “Spider-Man” jokes.

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Some of the changes:

Arachne, a spider-like villain created by Taymor who essentially took over Act Two, has been turned into a guardian angel figure with far less time onstage. Her much ridiculed Act Two song "Deeply Furious," in which she and other spiders burglarized shoe stores, is also gone.

The Green Goblin, who was previously killed off at the end of Act One, is now the main villain. The aerial battle between the Green Goblin and Spider-Man, which takes place throughout the theater and over the heads of audience members, now closes the show on a crowd-pleasing note.

A chorus of geeky teens that narrated the show, supposedly modeled after the show's creators, has been cut.

Peter Parker¹s relationship with Mary Jane and his family is far more emphasized than before. Uncle Ben¹s famous line, "With great power comes great responsibility," is also quoted at least twice, much to the delight of comic book fans.

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By Tim Herrera
tim.herrera@am-ny.com

The stars of “Spider-Man” spun tales with amNewYork about their experiences rebooting the musical for its official opening night.

Reeve Carney — Spider-Man

Despite an overhaul of nearly all his dialogue, Reeve Carney said the essence of his Peter Parker/Spider-Man characters was preserved. The biggest change to the show was a script that "fills in the blanks" for audiences not totally familiar with the “Spider-Man” story.

"When we were doing the old show with the original script, everyone involved understood the back story," said Carney, 28. "Sometimes you assume that people know more than it's safe to assume they know, and I think that's been one of the major goals of the overhaul."

Though the cast was given the chance to leave during the overhaul, they all stayed on, which he felt produced a bond.

"We're just excited to move into the next phase," he said.

Patrick Page — Norman Osborn/Green Goblin

With "Spider-Man 2.0," Patrick Page's role went from a nearly ancillary character who died during the first act to Spider-Man's primary nemesis — a move that’s just fine with Page.

"When you're given more material to share with the audience, you have more of a chance at communicating what's inside your head," he said. "I'm just really excited."

Page, 49, plays Norman Osborn for the first half of the show, and during intermission transforms into the Green Goblin. For him, the more robust role has been a thrill.

"I don’t think you'll ever find an actor who says, ‘Gee I wish they'd make my role smaller,’ " he said.

Jennifer Damiano — Mary Jane Watson

Jennifer Damiano's character Mary Jane Watson was almost given a complete overhaul, "specifically the relationship between her and Peter," said Damiano, 20. The change wasn't always easy.

"It was hard, just kind of completely readjusting the character I had already created and established, but still keeping some of that in there," she said.

Still, she said she couldn’t be happier with the new show and its much-delayed opening night.

"We're happy that the light at the end of the tunnel is so close, because it seemed pretty far away for a long time," she said.

T.V. Carpio — Arachne

Whereas the role of the Green Goblin was amped up, T.V. Carpio's Arachne was ratcheted down. Previously a main villain and one of the most divisive aspects of the first show, she's now a guardian angel-type of character to Peter Parker.

"Nobody is saying there weren't any flaws," Carpio said. "But everybody was willing to try to continue on improving the show," she said, adding that Arachne was one of the final pieces of the puzzle in 2.0.

Carpio joined the cast after the previous actress to play Arachne resigned after an injury, and Carpio herself was sidelined for more than two weeks in March with whiplash.

Still, she said the whole experience has forced her — and the cast — to become more comfortable with themselves.

"We're all just going through this experience and conquering it together," she said. "And that's the best thing."

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