Total Nerd

Broadway Producers Put Spider-Man On The Stage, And The Theatre Gods Were Angry  

Jacob Shelton
3.8k views 12 items

Spider-Man is one of the most beloved characters in comic book and film history. More often than not, when the wall crawler swings into a piece of media, it’s one of the hottest items in the theaters or on shelves. However, when the brain trust of Julie Taymor (the director behind Broadway’s The Lion King), as well as Bono and The Edge from U2 came together to produce a Spider-Man musical in 2010, disaster struck. 

Curses may not be the easiest thing to prove, but there’s so much evidence that Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark was hexed that it’s hard to ignore. There were multiple injuries, lawsuits, and cast replacements, but behind the scenes the creators were also jockeying for position. Taymor wanted to make a dark musical about pop culture, the producers wanted to make something family-friendly, and the blokes from U2 didn’t really seem to want to work on it at all. 

Producer Tony Adams Pass... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Broadway Producers Put Spider-Man On The Stage, And The Theatre Gods Were Angry
Photo: 8 Legged Productions
Producer Tony Adams Passed Unexpectedly From A Stroke Early In Production

One of the earliest stumbling blocks faced by the show was the demise of its original producer, Tony Adams. Aside from the people involved with the show saying he was an all-around good guy, Adams was the person who convinced Marvel to get into the Broadway business in the first place.

In 2005, Adams suffered a stroke while Edge was signing his contract to work on the music and lyrics for the show. Glen Berger, one of the writers of the show, told the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast:

[Adams was] the one who convinced Marvel in the first place to let him do Spider-Man: The Musical, and he could have persuaded anyone to do anything, he was just that sort of person - he’s the one who persuaded Bono and Edge to get on board. And after a whole lot of wrangling - this was early on in the process, back around 2005 - he finally got all the contracts in order and went over to Edge’s apartment to have him sign the deal - Bono had already signed, Julie had already signed, everything was finally coming together. And Edge went to go get a pen, and when he came back he found Tony Adams slumped over, and Tony Adams, who was still in his 50s, was [deceased] the next day, from a stroke. And that, early on, put a wrench in things. It didn’t really occur to anyone at the time that that was going to be in some ways a fatal blow [to the project].

A Stunt Double For Spidey Slammed Into The Stage During A Promotional Event

No matter the property, anything about superheroes needs to have plenty of action and stunts, and that carries the risk of injury. Throughout the run of Turn Off the Dark, multiple actors and stunt performers were injured in a variety of painful and public ways.

Before previews began, Kevin Aubin, one of Spider-Man's body doubles, was catapulted through the air during a flying stunt and slammed into the stage, breaking his wrists. ABC reports that he later posted a photo of himself on Facebook showing off the casts covering his arms up to his elbows.

He included the simple message:

Well i dont know what im allowed to say. but something went wrong and I fell on my hands from a high distance. It happens, no one to blame. I'm alive and ok.

The Stunt Double's Replacement Injured Himself Performing The Same Stunt As His Predecessor

Aubin wasn't the only stunt performer who was injured while springing across the stage. Shortly afterward, another stunt performer came forward to state that he injured his feet while performing the exact same stunt a month before the public mishap.

The actor, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, told The New York Times that he didn't know why the news was such a big deal because minor sprains and fractures are a part of Broadway rehearsals. Regardless, the mishaps inspired the New York State Department of Labor to inspect the show's harnesses and safety devices.

The Department of Labor's inspections pushed the debut of the show back from November 14, 2010, to January, although previews were held on November 28.

Actress Natalie Mendoza Suffered A Concussion During The First Preview Performance

It wasn't just the stunt performers who suffered from fractures and sprains on set. Natalie Mendoza, a lead actress who played the sultry and diabolical Spider-Woman named Arachne, suffered a concussion in the middle of the show's first preview performance.

Mendoza wasn't performing a stunt when she was knocked over the head, she was just standing on the side of the stage. While she watched the show progress, a rope holding a piece of equipment struck her in the head. Two doctors inspected Mendoza and suggested she take a break from the show to rest.

She returned to the cast, but after witnessing stunt performer Chris Tierney injure himself during a show, she made her final exit from Spider-Man in December 2010.