'Spider-Man' postponed; Julie Taymor out as director

People line up to enter the Foxwoods Theatre for a matinee showing of
People line up to enter the Foxwoods Theatre for a matinee showing of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," Wednesday, March 9, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) (Mark Lennihan - AP)
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By JOCELYN NOVECK and MARK KENNEDY
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 10, 2011; 2:18 PM

NEW YORK -- Julie Taymor, the Tony Award winning director of "The Lion King," will no longer direct Broadway's troubled "Spider-Man" musical as producers announced a new creative team and postponed the show's official opening to summer.

Taymor, who also co-wrote the book for "Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark," will remain a part of the new team, lead producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris said Wednesday, in announcing an unprecedented sixth delay for the musical.

"Julie Taymor is not leaving the creative team. Her vision has been at the heart of this production since its inception and will continue to be so," the producers said in a statement. "Julie's previous commitments mean that past March 15, she cannot work the 24/7 necessary to make the changes in the production in order to be ready for our opening."

On Wednesday, a friend and longtime associate said the lack of time to hone the show had been one of Taymor's great frustrations.

"She's been distraught that there's so little time to rehearse," said Jeffrey Horowitz, artistic director of the Theatre for a New Audience.

Also distressing to Taymor has been the tenor of much of the news coverage and online chatter. "It's hard - I try not to look," she told The Associated Press in a brief conversation in December. She more recently referred to her troubles during a talk at TED, an annual tech conference held this year in Long Beach, Calif.

"I'm in `The Crucible' right now," she said, referring to the Arthur Miller play about the Salem witch trials. "It's trial by fire."

"She's distraught at how she's been labeled," Horowitz said. "They've said she's an artist only concerned with spectacle. I can tell you that all her visual ideas come from a deeply human idea of the story she is working on. And they say she's a `perfectionist' - well, what's wrong with being a perfectionist?"

"You don't hire people like Julie Taymor unless you want people who push boundaries," he added. "This show is a piece of art, and it has been described as a spectacle gone out of control. That is dangerous - for her, and for other artists who take risks."

The show's representative, Rick Miramontez, said no performances will be canceled during the overhaul.

Philip William McKinley and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa have joined the $65 million production to assist with new staging and rewrites for the show, which was to have opened on March 15. Musical consultants Paul Bogaev and sound designer Peter Hylenski are also on the new team.

Bogaev, who won a Tony nomination in 2004 for his work on "Bombay Dreams," has a history of working with rock musicians who craft musicals, including "Tarzan" with Phil Collins and "Aida" with Elton John. Hylenski worked on "Elf," "Shrek" and "Scottsboro Boys," among other shows.


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© 2011 The Associated Press

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