What has eight legs but can't yet run? 'Spider-Man' on Broadway

The Spider-Man franchise has found itself entangled in a web of its own making.

After months of speculation over the future of the extraordinarily expensive Broadway musical bearing the superhero's name, the team behind it has admitted that it is still not audience-ready - and postponed its opening by three weeks, giving up an opening slot during the most lucrative period in the theatre-going year.

The delay has sparked a rash of new headlines about what has already been billed as the costliest, most over-the-top musical ever attempted on the Great White Way. But it's probably not the kind of publicity that Spidey would like. And it's only the latest in a long series of trouble and hiccups. The show, with music by Bono and The Edge of U2, was originally set to open in February this year.

Certainly, it's more than irritating news for people who had already bought tickets for November and are only now learning that the stage where they had expected to watch 'Spider-Man, Turn off the Dark', will precisely still be unlit. The latest schedule is for previews to begin on 28 November with the formal first night set for 11 January.

The initial damage to the production, which was already unusual because it will not have gone through the usual pre-Broadway try-outs in other American cities, may be substantial because the new opening dates mean it will miss the normally hectic Thanksgiving holiday. Instead, it will have its opening night in the post-Christmas period when tickets sales and tourist traffic in New York are traditionally sluggish. That is bad news for a show which desperately needs to get off to a good start if it is to have any hope of earning back its staggering budget of pounds 40 million, more than double the cost of any previous musical.

The problems appear to be manifold. Most importantly, however, the producers of the show have failed to procure the necessary permits for the aerial stunts that have been trumpeted in advance as the most daring audiences will ever have seen in musical theatre. According to several reports two actors have suffered injuries recently as mid-air stunts have gone awry.

"We made it clear that we need to see every manoeuvre before they are legally allowed to hold their first performance," the New York Department of Labour, which must issue the necessary permits, said in a statement. "This is a unique production, with an unprecedented amount of activity going on directly above audiences, so we want to see each one of those activities demonstrated."

But the safety of the high-wire acts is seemingly not the only issue keeping Spidey (aka Peter Parker), to be played by Reeve Carney, on terra firma. The New York Times said transitions between scenes are unfinished. Bono's music has not yet been synchronized with the dialogue and action. He and The Edge were at the theatre all last week working with director Julie Taymor, known as a perfectionist, and an all-important first run-through with a live orchestra is set for tomorrow.

While critics remain hopeful that Ms Taymor, the film and stage director who was behind Disney's Lion King, may still make good on her promise of a dazzling theatrical experiences, the delays are dangerous for a production that will need to have maximum box office impact if it is to have any chance of recouping the enormous investment.

"There's no doubt that the delay is a big problem in building and buffing the brand, and building up excitement and anticipation for the show," said Rick Kelley, vice president of Maxwell Group Entertainment, which makes group sales for Broadway. "The Spidey icon has never needed buzz before, but this show needs more of it. I feel sorry for the box office folks - they'll be losing money at the same time they're rebooking tickets like crazy."

Prospective audience members will be anxious in particular not to have worry about the safety of the performers - or even of themselves. The most daring of the promised stunts involves a cast member being launched from the stage and soaring over the orchestra seats to the theatre's rear. Were that to go wrong, as it has in rehearsal, injuries could potentially be incurred by both performer and theatre-goer alike.

"Shows like ours, that embrace the challenge of opening on Broadway without an out-of-town tryout, often need to adjust their schedules along the way," said producer Michael. Cohl. The production, he went on "has an unprecedented level of technical artistry, and getting it right takes time".

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam