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Broadway's 'Spider-Man' musical begins previews on a shaky note

November 29, 2010 |  9:33 am

Carney

On Sunday, Broadway's "Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark" began preview performances at the Foxwoods Theater in New York. The event marks the first time that a paying public audience was able to experience the long-delayed stage musical. But according to reports in the New York press, the first performance was marred by a number of technical mishaps.

New York Post columnist Michael Riedel reported that "overhead stage wires dropped on the audience, scenery appeared on stage missing pieces -- and the show's star [Reeve Carney] was even left swaying helplessly over them midair during what was supposed to be the climatic end to the first act."

Carney was left dangling for apparently close to a minute as stagehands attempted to free him from an aerial harness. The glitch prompted hoots and other derisive noises from the audience, according to reports. Once the actor was disentangled, an intermission was called.

Technical problems reportedly began early in the performance. One of the mishaps involved a scene with a character named Arachne, the spider whose bite transforms Peter Parker (Carney) into Spider-Man. The Post reported that an apparent wire malfunction left Arachne dangling in midair "where she remained for an embarrassing seven or eight minutes as stagehands worked feverishly to figure out the problem."

The New York Times reported that most of the show's aerial stunts went off smoothly, and there were no signs of injuries. In the weeks leading up to the first preview, some performers reportedly sustained injuries during the execution of aerial stunts during rehearsals.

The news prompted a visit from safety inspectors and is believed to be the cause of the show's most recent delay, in which the official opening date was pushed from December to January.

Both the Times and the Post reported that at one point in the evening, an audience member shouted, "I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel like a guinea pig tonight!"

The New York Daily News reported that the running time for the musical was a whopping three hours and 40 minutes, though it is unclear if that figure includes the unforeseen pauses due to technical problems.

"Spider-Man" is directed by the Tony-winning Julie Taymor and features a score by U2's Bono and The Edge. The budget for the musical is reported to be approximately $65 million, making it the most expensive show in Broadway history. The musical is currently scheduled to open Jan. 11.

Sunday's broadcast of "60 Minutes" featured a segment on the making of "Spider-Man" during which it was revealed that the running cost of the musical is in the neighborhood of $1 million per week.

-- David Ng

Photo: Actor Reeve Carney at the Foxwoods Theater in New York after the opening night preview of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark."

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