A dishy take on the successful yet calamity-prone Broadway production of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
As a script collaborator on the unprecedented project, Emmy Award–winning TV writer Berger looks back on the six tumultuous years he spent on the increasingly tangled and mismanaged Spider-Man theatrical “undertaking,” a production plagued with technical snafus, poor critical reception and countless script overhauls. Though meticulously documented, from the show’s origins in 2005 to its nerve-wracking press previews and strained opening-night curtain call, some details seem glossed over in favor of anecdotal notes on the author’s regrettably disintegrated relationship with Julie Taymor, the show’s headstrong director. “Even now, I still carry the dream with me every day—to make up with her,” writes Berger. This sentiment hovers over the narrative, even as the author launches into an avalanche of mishaps along Spider-Man’s serpentine path to the stage. At the core of the dysfunction, he writes, was a general lack of confluence among the production team, which included Irish producer Tony Adams, “puckish” lead producer Michael Cohl, and U2’s Bono and the Edge, musical collaborators who seemed mismatched for the project. Berger’s version of events spotlights Marvel Entertainment’s continual disapproval of the material’s treatment and the undermining and swift firing of Taymor, an event Berger himself contributed to with the formulation of “Plan X,” an alternate, lighter script version written without Taymor’s knowledge. A threatened lawsuit simmered and came to pass when book-writing royalties were withheld from Taymor. The author found little consolation in the eventual resolution of Taymor’s litigation, and his tone at the onset and conclusion of the book still seems to yearn for reconciliation as the show continues to cash in.
Berger delivers the inside scoop with ample melodrama and star-crossed folly.