Producers behind Broadway's beleaguered Spider-Man musical made the difficult decision to close the show after a series of onstage injuries left them unable to obtain the necessary insurance. Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, which features a score by U2 stars Bono and The Edge, opened in June, 2011 after months of delays and setbacks, including the exit of director/writer Julie Taymor.
A number of castmembers also sustained nasty injuries during previews, including Spider-Man stunt double Kevin Aubin, who broke both wrists, actress Natalie Mendoza, who left the show after suffering concussion, and Christopher Tierney, who underwent back surgery and months of rehabilitation after a serious stage fall.
Producers recently announced the curtain will fall on the musical in January (14), and producer Michael Cohl has now revealed insurance issues are to blame for the closure, telling the New York Post, "We don't have injury insurance, so we have to close the show," while jokingly referencing U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare reforms by adding, "We tried to get on the website for Obamacare, but we couldn't."
However, Cohl is convinced the musical, which holds the title of Broadway's most expensive production, will eventually be a huge success as bosses plan to move the show to Las Vegas.
He adds, "I guess we'll call the money we spent in New York 'research and development'... I think we've established a really good brand that will be even better the second, the third, the fourth time out."
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
Across The Universe star Carpio replaced injured Natalie Mendoza as villainess Arachne in the musical earlier this year (11), but now she's had to take leave too.
Carpio was hurt during a stunt last week (ends20Mar11) and has abandoned the role to allow herself time to recover.
In a statement, spokesperson Rick Miramontez says, "T.V. Carpio sustained an injury on Wednesday, March 16 during an onstage battle scene with a fellow actor. On doctor's orders, she will be out of the show for the next two weeks."
BroadwayWorld.com reports Carpio is nursing a whiplash injury.
Actress America Olivo is now taking over the role until Carpio's return.
The show, which will temporarily close in April (11) so producers can overhaul it before its official launch in June (11), has been plagued with onset accidents. Four other castmembers - including Mendoza - have been left injured after incidents in rehearsals and preview performances.
The Tony-nominated actor and former American Idol contestant recently saw a preview performance of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which has been marred by delays and numerous onstage accidents.
Actress Natalie Mendoza recently quit her role in the show after struggling to recover from a head injury, while stuntman Christopher Tierney was hospitalised last month (Dec10) after falling from a ledge during a performance.
Maroulis concedes the injuries which have blighted the cast have been "unfortunate", but he's adamant the final production will be worth the wait.
He tells the Hollywood Reporter, "It was the most poetic, provocative and beautiful piece of theatre I've seen in a long f**king time. I realise theatre is not a contact sport but they're in a fight, making art, creating something that's bigger than anything...
"I was home (in New York City) and ran to the theatre (to see the musical). I'd heard about the budget and all the talk in the news. Sure, actors are at risk sometimes, but we have an incredibly powerful union and they're doing everything they can to make the environment safe. It's unfortunate that people get hurt, but everyone wants to be there or they'd leave like Natalie Mendoza did...
"People are going to attack it like they do everyday in the New York Post. But some shows are critic-proof. Look at Wicked. It got c**p reviews and it's the biggest show in the world grossing billions of dollars as we speak, it's just bananas."
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which features music by U2 stars Bono and The Edge, has been marred by delays and spiralling costs, while a number of serious onstage injuries have plagued the cast.
Actress Natalie Mendoza recently quit after suffering concussion during a preview performance, while Spider-Man stuntman Christopher Tierney was hospitalised after a terrifying mid-show fall left him with numerous injuries including a cracked skull.
Dunst, who played the superhero's love interest, Mary Jane Watson, in three big screen blockbusters, insists she has had no involvement with the musical, but despite all the troubles, she is keen to see the show in action.
She tells the New York Post, "I'm involved in none of this, but I want to see the show very much next time I'm in New York."
The news comes after U2 frontman Bono, who helped score the show, was spotted in the audience for the first time at Wednesday night's (05Jan11) preview performance.
Safety inspectors have given Taymor the all-clear to proceed with Spider-Man:Turn Off the Dark despite four cast members sustaining injuries since preview performances began in November (10) - sparking fury within the theatre community.
Stuntman Christopher Tierney, who underwent spinal surgery after falling from a ledge during a performance last month (Dec10), has publicly refused to blame Taymor and the show's safety crew for the mishaps.
And he temporarily left a treatment centre on Tuesday (04Jan10) to join castmates Reeve Carney (Spider-Man), Patrick Page (Green Goblin), Jennifer Damiano (Mary Jane) and T.V. Carpio (Arachne) for an interview on breakfast TV programme Good Morning America.
The appearance came hours after Carpio was officially named as a replacement for Natalie Mendoza, the actress who left the show last week (ends31Dec10) after she was struck in the head by a weighted rope backstage and suffered a concussion.
And the group assured critics proper safety precautions are being taken.
Carney said, "We all appreciate everyone's concern for our safety. I guess you just get into this job - it's an athletic event, you know it has a certain amount of risk involved. People on our crew are amazing. You have to trust and we do trust them... The only people more concerned than the other actors is the crew."
Page, defending Taymor, added, "I wish they (critics) could be in the building with us and see the care that Julie takes."
Meanwhile, Tierney, who suffered multiple injuries and still has screws in his back, says he's eager to return to the stage: "The moment I feel like I'm good, I am back in that show."
The production is scheduled to officially open on 7 February (11).
Mendoza quit her role as villainess Arachne in Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark last week (ends02Jan11), a month after she was injured in an onstage accident which saw her hit on the head with a weighted rope.
The actress subsequently suffered nausea and headaches and took time off before quitting the troubled Broadway show altogether.
Director Julie Taymor has now announced Carpio as her official replacement and the actress will take Mendoza 's place in the show on Tuesday night (04Jan10).
Taymor, who previously directed Carpio in 2007 romance movie Across the Universe, tells the Hollywood Reporter, "T.V. is a superb singer and actress whom I've loved since we worked together on Across the Universe. She brings a unique talent and take on the role of Arachne... We are thrilled she is taking over the role."
Mendoza, who played villainess Arachne in Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, was hit on the head with a weighted rope during the production's first preview performance last month (28Nov10).
She returned to the stage three days later but took another two weeks off after suffering nausea and headaches. Understudy America Olivo took over the role.
Insiders claimed earlier this week (begs27Dec10) that Mendoza was in talks to leave the production, and she hinted at the claims in a post on her Twitter.com page, declaring: "Can feel a trip to India coming on & visiting my magic little orphanage Ramana's Garden in Rishikesh. Raising funds as we speak. Be the change."
Lead Producer Michael Cohl confirmed the gossip in a statement on Thursday (30Dec10) and Mendoza has opened up about her decision to leave the Broadway show.
She says, "It has been a difficult decision to make, but I regret that I am unable to continue on Spider-Man as I recover from my injury. I wish Julie (Taymor, director) and the cast and crew every success with this production."
Taymor adds, "Natalie is a talented performer. We've appreciated her contributions to the show and we wish her all the best."
Mendoza is one of four actors to have suffered injuries onstage in the $65 million (£43.3 million) production, and she is not the first star to leave the show. Earlier this year (10), both Alan Cumming, who was set to play the villainous Green Goblin, and Evan Rachel Wood, cast as Spider-Man's leading lady Mary Jane, quit, citing scheduling difficulties.
Mendoza, who played villainess Arachne in Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, was hit in the head with a weighted rope during the production's first preview performance last month (28Nov10).
She returned three days later but took another two weeks off after suffering nausea and a headache. Understudy America Olivo took over the role.
The actress recently hinted at her departure in posts on her Twitter.com blog, writing: "Can feel a trip to India coming on & visiting my magic little orphanage Ramana’s Garden in Rishikesh. Raising funds as we speak. Be the change."
The New York Times reports Mendoza's representatives and Spider-Man producers have been negotiating an exit agreement for days.
Mendoza is one of four actors who have suffered injuries during onstage mishaps in the $65 million (GBP43.3 million) production, and she is not the first star to leave the show. Earlier this year (10), both Alan Cumming, who was set to play the villainous Green Goblin, and Evan Rachel Wood, cast as Spider-Man's leading lady Mary Jane, quit, citing scheduling difficulties.
All parties involved in Mendoza's departure have refused to comment on the report.
Director Julie Taymor's Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark has been blighted by a series of recent setbacks and stunt double Christopher Tierney became the latest casualty of the show after taking a tumble from a platform above the stage on Monday (20Dec10). He suffered several broken ribs and internal bleeding after his safety cable snapped.
An investigation by officials at the Actors' Equity Association ruled the incident was due to "human error" on the stage crew's part.
But the shocking accident - the fourth since the show opened in September (10) - prompted Spider-Man producers to axe a planned performance on Wednesday afternoon in a bid to prevent further problems.
Show spokesman Rick Miramontez tells the New York Times the production will be safe enough to continue on Wednesday night after the new measures are put in place.
He says, "The production knows exactly what happened at Monday's performance, and it is being dealt with. This is a manoeuvre that has been done hundreds, if not a thousand times, without incident... It will never happen again."
Tierney is not the only person to be injured during the run - actress Natalie Mendoza suffered concussion on the first night of previews when a rope broke and hit her on the head, and another Spider-Man stuntman, Kevin Aubin, broke both wrists in a fall during rehearsals in October (10).