Spider-Man The Musical Is Now Spider-Man The Opera

The Spider-Man musical is in trouble. It’s definitely suffering financial woes and if you ask Land of Punt, it’s in an artistic free-fall as well.

Rolling Stone has reported that the production released various contracted crew members due to decreases in cash-flow and increases in costs.

Reports indicate that in order for the musical to break even it will have to sell out the theater for five consecutive years—that’s Wicked and Jersey Boys type of success.


Regardless, the show must go on. Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is scheduled to debut Feb. 25, 2010. Spider-Man tickets are on sale now.

Artistically, the show’s composers, Bono and The Edge from the Irish rock band U2, are circling the wagons and doing damage control.

Edge: “We don’t really like musicals. Most musicals are really pants. They’re really not very cool.”

While that’s insulting to fans of the genre, like LOP, it’s probably true. Next To Normal is cool but it pales in comparison to the cool of Joshua Tree or Rattle and Hum.

Of course Edge said what he said to squash critics who are laughing at this idea of a singing web slinger.

Edge: “It is much more like opera than a straight musical. We’re actually not calling it a musical for that reason because we don’t want to put people off.”

What The Edge is trying to do is stop people from smirking when they hear phrase “Spider-Man musical.” He thinks “Spider-Man: The Opera” sounds more noble and sophisticated. He’s wrong. It doesn’t make the project appear substantial, it makes him appear like a pompous ass.

“Opera” connotes a lofty, artistic musical experience while “musical” evokes jazz hands.

Besides that implication, opera and musical are nearly synonymous terms and their basic differences are rather moot.

One of the historical factors that generally separate the two genres, spoken words, exists in both genres. For example, Jesus Christ Superstar has no dialogue and the opera Die Zauberflöte has spoken dialogue. So there!

There’s been a lot of ridiculous musicals but you can say the same about opera, i.e. opera buffa.

The Edge: “We made one rule for ourselves though that we would never have Spider-Man singing. A guy singing in tights can’t happen.”

Actually The Edge, guys sings in tights all the time. That’s kinda of the definition of musical theater.

Keeping Spider-Man out of the upbeat number that starts Act II has nothing to do with The Edge’s gallant artistic expression. It’s has to do with execution.

The show can’t have Spider-Man sing because his mouth is covered. Since his mouth is covered the actor inside the suit couldn’t sing the song. Since the actor inside the suit can’t sing the song he would have to pantomime to someone singing the song off-stage. The audience won’t buy it.

Bono: “Our Peter Parker is much more…not Kurt Cobain, but a kind of slacker, a more kind of shy sort of guy.”

Here Bono tries to associate the musical with someone “cool” like Kurt Cobain. Maybe he’s describing the character. We hope he’s not suggesting someone like Cobain will be portraying the role of Peter Parker because they just won’t work.

If Bono wanted to endear this musical to Broadway fans he would have mentioned names like Gavin Creel, Lin-Manuel Miranda or Aaron Tveit. Yet, he doesn’t care about Broadway fans. His goal is to lure his own fan base who think this is a crazy idea.

Speaking of crazy get a load of this:

Bono: “[Evan Rachel Wood is] the greatest actor of her generation, she’s the one to watch. She happens to sing like a bird, it’s like a true voice.”

Wood may have a great voice and she maybe a great actor but to proclaim her the greatest actor of her generation is too far-fetched to even entertain. It’s not hyperbole it’s nonsense and it makes Bono look foolish.

Bono: “We’ve got a new villain, it’s a girl. It’s a very extraordinary role. We’ve taken it to a much more dizzy place than you’d expect. We’ve got big tunes. We’re very proud of it.”

They haven’t announced the villain yet which leads us to believe they haven’t figure her out yet. They better hurry this thing premieres in six months.

They may very well be proud of their work but if they came up with one great U2 song, or even one mediocre U2 song, they sure as hell aren’t going to waste it on this dung heap.

What odd about U2’s damage control is the director of this musical is Julie Taymor. She’s the first woman to win a Tony for directing a musical. The musical she won that award for is the hugely successful The Lion King, the exact type of theatre The Edge thinks is “uncool”.

It’s clear that Bono and The Edge are reeling, this project is in free fall, and their reputation is taking a huge hit.


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