'Spider-Man' musical gets a tell-all from its script writer

Playwright Glen Berger of 'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark' chronicles the show's troubled production in a book to be released Nov. 5.

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark' star Reeve Carney (center) and other cast members appear at the Tony Awards.

The behind-the-scenes story of how the controversial musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” came to be is revealed in an upcoming book by Glen Berger, one of the show’s script writers.

The book, “Song of Spider-Man,” is scheduled to be released Nov. 5, but some of the stories within it are already public knowledge after The New York Times obtained an advance copy of Berger’s work.

In “Spider-Man,” Berger discusses his difficult relationship with the musical’s director, Julie Taymor, and says the working relationship between Taymor, the show’s producers, and composers Bono and the Edge of the band U2 was fraught.

Berger writes that he was told to write a new, more upbeat version of the show, titled “Plan X,” by Bono, the Edge, and producers without Taymor’s knowledge. (Portions of this treatment were incorporated into the show after the director was fired.) Meanwhile, Berger says Bono cut down Taymor in meetings and e-mail exchanges with others and a producer took away Taymor’s tickets for opening night. A musical supervisor who gave her a ticket then stopped having “active involvement with the show,” Berger writes. 

Berger told Newsday he realized soon after the show’s opening in 2011 that he had unique insight to “a really, really wild story. It is a story of great ideals that fall short. Really, no one else could write the story.... I wanted to be able to look back at this moment with no regrets, artistically and ethically.”

He said that while his relationship with Taymor was harmed by the production, she recently called him and “we wound up talking for hours,” he said. “It was totally friendly.”

“Spider-Man,” which is the most expensive musical in history, is still running on Broadway but received mixed reviews and several of its cast members have been injured over the course of production, including dancer Daniel Curry, who hurt his foot last month during a show.

A representative for Taymor and one for the “Spider-Man” producers told the NYT their clients have no comment about the book.

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