Is the Spider-Man Musical Swinging Toward Disaster?

Can the most expensive show in Broadway history be saved?

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With a budget of $65 million, the oft-delayed Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is already the most expensive musical in Broadway history. That figure hasn't stopped the Julie Taymor-directed opus (with a score by U2's Bono and The Edge) from attracting heaps of bad pre-opening night buzz, culminating earlier this month in a visit from the New York Department of Labor after two performers were injured while rehearsing the show's aerial stunts. A day after its gaffe-filled first preview, is there still time to save the behemoth before opening night in January? A sampling of opinions from around the Web:

  • Not A Good Night Clocking in at three hours and 40 minutes, last night's preview--the first in front of a paying audience--won't do much to stop chatter that the show is in trouble, says Patrick Healy of The New York Times. "The show stopped five times, mostly to fix technical problems," writes Healy, "and Act I ended prematurely, with Spider-Man stuck dangling 10 feet above audience members, while Act II was marred by a nasty catcall during one of the midperformance pauses." (A patron reportedly yelled, "I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I feel like a guinea pig today — I feel like it’s a dress rehearsal.")

  • A Catastrophe Nobody has documented the show's setbacks with greater relish than New York Post Broadway columnist Michael Riedel. Not surprisingly, he found little to cheer about following last night performance. The show is shaping up to be an "epic flop," hamstrung by a "dull score and baffling script."

  • On The Bright Side... Last week's New York magazine cover story on Taymor was a rare piece of positive press for the production, but the same couldn't be said for Lane Brown's assessment of the show on the magazine's Daily Vulture blog. "Success!" declared Brown. "Broadway's $65 million, actor-fracturing Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark made it through its first preview last night without any major casualties."

  • It Is What It Is One of the more optimistic appraisals of the show's chances for success came from 60 Minutes' Lesley Stahl, who says the production delivers what it promises. And what would that be? "Damsel-in-distress rescuing and leaping around!" enthused Stahl.