Julie Taymor Exits Spider-Man Musical

by Melissa Silverstein
March 10, 2011 4:15 AM
4 Comments
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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)

'Spider-Man' director Julie Taymor to be replaced by Philip William McKinley of 'The Boy from Oz' (NY Daily News)


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4 Comments

  • Elena | March 14, 2011 9:07 AMReply

    I got to tour the scenic fabrication company that built he Spider-Man set last winter. the show at that point had been delayed, so all of the set pieces were sitting in a warehouse, awaiting the word that more funding had been acquired and that the show would go on. The fabricators had even built a test facility to test all of the equipment, since their warehouse wasn't big enough to test everything in. I want to show to succeed, because a lot of "little people"'s livelihoods depend on this show running for an extended period of time.

    I do think this show does need someone with a background in circus performing/acrobatics. Why no one from Cirque Du Colei was brought in at the inception of this makes no sense. I love Taymor's work, but at the end of the day, 65 million dollars fo set, costumes, lights, and flying actors can't fix a story that is lacking. Taymor was fired only after she refused to collaborate with anyone else.

  • Magi L | March 13, 2011 8:06 AMReply

    I completely agree that this doesn't have anything to do with gender - and I'd add that it does have to do with ego. The hubris element was apparent when she began rewriting the story, instead of sticking to the Marvel Comics bible. Her last few endeavors have shown this sort of non-self-editing bent that seems to have played out to its inevitable end.

  • Linn D. | March 11, 2011 4:31 AMReply

    Since I've written comments on this issue in other WH posts I just want to make clear I personally never wanted Ms. Taymor to fail, or was "gunning for her head on a platter." I've seen two of her other projects ("The Lion King" and "Across the Universe") and thought they were very good. I am mainly concerned that actors' safety is being disregarded in the challenge of creating this musical. Weirdly enough, I worked with Philip William McKinley many, many years ago. While a tough taskmaster, he's also a decent director. Perhaps he can build on what Ms. Taymor has begun and bring it to fruition... And I don't see this as anything to do with gender and all to do with when creating art, you must take chances and sometimes it doesn't work out the way you hoped.

  • Jihad-Punk | March 10, 2011 4:38 AMReply

    Why are they still wasting their money on this silly comic book musical? It's already been doomed from the start. I thought it was a joke when I heard Spider-man was being turned into a musical.

    It still is.

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