Talk of the upcoming musical Spider-man: Turn off the Dark actually coming to fruition on Broadway has been circling Times Square for a long while now, mostly due to the big names involved – U2’s Bono and the Edge have written the music while director Julie Taymor (Lion King) is directing – and the complete debacle it created last year when funding fell apart and rumors began circulating that the Marvel comic book adaptation might not happen.
Rumors of a Rialto demise faded this morning as ABC’s “Good Morning America” gave a huge plug to the new musical, with a live performance of the original song “Boy Falls from the Sky” followed by interviews with Bono, the Edge and Taymor. It was a major PR blitz aimed at building up the hype prior to Spider-man’s November 14th start date at the newly re-named Foxwoods Theatre on Broadway.
The debut song, “Boy Falls from the Sky,” established that this theatrical extravaganza – the Broadway community will be abuzz whether this fails or not – will have a strong U2 sound to it, meaning it is relying heavily on a rock and roll sound. Green Day’s current Broadway foray, American Idiot, successfully mixed the visions of rock music and theatre last season, and their fans have been showing plenty of support.
But, linking U2 to a Broadway musical doesn’t automatically mean the biggest band in the world’s fan base will respond with such enthusiasm come November. After all, when The Who’s Tommy hit Broadway in 1993, New York Times critic Jon Pareles found fault in its linking the famed rock band to the stage creation. Referring to himself as a fan of the band that loved the rock album, which the show was based on, he claimed to “hardly believe that the Broadway extravaganza had the chutzpah to bill itself as ‘The Who’s Tommy.'”
Perhaps American Idiot changed all of that, finally breaching the gap between a rock band and musical theatre, but judging from the reactions sprouting up on social networks shortly after this morning’s “Good Morning America” performance, producers of Spider-man shouldn’t start counting their money just yet.
Will U2 fans embrace a medium of entertainment outside of live concerts, proving American Idiot right by showing that Broadway has room for Stephen Sondheim and leather-jacket wearing rockers? Bono certainly hopes so, but doesn’t want fans to think it is a pure U2 sound. “It swerves all over the road,” the singer told “Good Morning America.” “You’ve got the big rock and roll songs, big melodies, and there’s orchestral stuff too.”
From pop-up book style stage designs to cast members flying over the audience and a lot of dancing, Taymor has described Spider-man as being a bigger-than-life production. Now it’s a wait-and-see game until the lights go up on Broadway this winter. Perhaps a bigger question is, will the lyrics “Spider-man” turn up in Bono and the Edge’s score? I’m taking bets now.