Song of Spider-Man
The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History
“One of the best literary works of this year” (Miami Herald-Tribune): The true story of a theatrical dream—or nightmare—come true…the making of the Spider-Man musical.
As you might imagine, writing a Broadway musical has its challenges. But it turns out there are challenges one can’t begin to imagine when collaborating with two rock legends and a superstar director to stage the biggest, most expensive production in theater history. Renowned director Julie Taymor picked playwright Glen Berger to cowrite the book for a $25 million Spider-Man musical. Together—along with U2’s Bono and Edge—they would shape a work that was technically daring and emotionally profound, with a story fueled by the hero’s quest for love…and the villains’ quest for revenge. Or at least, that’s what they’d hoped for.
But when charismatic producer Tony Adams died suddenly, the show began to lose its footing. Soon the budget was ballooning, financing was evaporating, and producers were jumping ship or getting demoted. And then came the injuries. And then came word-of-mouth about the show itself. What followed was a pageant of foul-ups, falling-outs, ever-more harrowing mishaps, and a whole lot of malfunctioning spider legs. This “circus-rock-and-roll-drama,” with its $65 million price tag, had become more of a spectacle than its creators ever wished for. During the show’s unprecedented seven months of previews, the company’s struggles to reach opening night inspired breathless tabloid coverage and garnered international notoriety.
Through it all, Berger observed the chaos with his signature mix of big ambition and self-deprecating humor.
When the renowned director Julie Taymor picked Berger to co-write the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, he joined a dream team of Taymor and U2's Bono and Edge. Berger's book offers a behind-the scenes- look into that collaboration the making of a musical that went on to become both hugely successful and the ultimate source for backstage gossip and tales of theatrical hubris. The theatre world was riveted by the show's unending problems, especially when two performers injured themselves during flying stunts in previews. All of this was chronicled by the New York Post's Michael Riedel who Berger makes no effort to conceal his strong dislike of. However, Riedel is just about the only person Berger openly disdainful toward much of the book functions as a long apology to Taymor, who was finally fired as director of the show when she refused to implement widely agreed-upon changes. The book loses steam three-quarters of the way through, once Taymor departs the show. As the subtitle promises, Berger provides his insider's perspective, but readers may well agree with his self-assessment as an insecure people-pleaser. Despite this, the book is still highly readable, particularly when Bono and the Edge grace its pages.
The best ever
Simply the best most entertaining & insightful book about the creative process during a bway musical
Read this first followed by The Secret Life of the American Musical
An absolute must read for theatre nerds and anyone who loves a great story
This book is one of the most meaningful and moving non-fiction titles of all time. As with all well known events, the lives of the real people, behind the curtain, are interesting in how anticlimactic they really are. It helps illustrate how, no matter how public the result, it is nothing more than everyday people doing everyday things, and hoping for good results. I admit to having seen Spiderman and having no idea how seriously screwed up things were behind the scenes. In any case, great read!
A Great Yarn
Picked up this book expecting a behind the scenes account of the making of this troubled musical. I did not expect the engrossing, fascinating and by the end emotionally effecting journey of this man through murky, crazy artistic and production waters.
Could not put it down. And though I knew some of this history and have seen the show pre and post Julie Taymor I was still hooked and spellbound.
I think this man has a career in books. GO WITH IT SIR. I'll definitely pick up your next one.