Is Broadway Ready for Spider-man?

The long-delayed, multi-million dollar musical Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark is one step closer to its debut on Broadway.  The show's producers announced that preview performances would begin just in time for the holidays -- November 14, 2010, with the official opening night scheduled for December 21. 

In a story about the musical on Marvel News, the wording to describe Peter Parker's challenges after getting bitten by the radioactive spider can very well describe the troubled production: "Maligned by the media, buffeted by financial woes, and stretched thin by the expectations of the world at large."

The production has been plagued by a stream of tribulations (an awkward title being the least of its worries), forcing it to suspend production at one point as financing hit a wall, leading to delays that caused two major stars (Alan Cumming and Evan Rachel Wood) to withdraw.  Even the Hilton Theater where it will be playing has changed its name -- it's now called the Foxwoods Theatre.

But now the musical seems to be on track with an incredible pedigree of names attached to it: directed by Julie Taymor who received high praise for bringing Disney's The Lion King to the stage (she also wrote the book for the show with playwright Glen Berger) and with music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge of U2.  The cast now includes Reeve Carney as Spider-man, Tony Award nominee Jaime Damiano as Mary-Jane Watson, and Norman Page as the Green Goblin. Sounds great on paper, right?

Can a comic-book superhero really be the basis for a great theatrical musical?  Thoughts of the ill-fated Man of Steel musical, It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman spring to mind.  Skeptics of Disney's acquisition of Marvel Entertainment are already sharpening their critical knives, ready to hold up this production as evidence of the Mickey Mouse Company's creative disconnect with Marvel's House of Ideas. 

I hope the show will be groundbreaking and memorable, and not just an overpriced, special effects-laden disaster.  We'll find out in a few short months.