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"Song of Spider-Man" is playwright Glen Berger's story of a theatrical dream--or nightmare--come true. Renowned director Julie Taymor picked 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. Song of Spider-Man records the journey of this cast and crew as a hilarious memoir about friendship, collaboration, the foibles of hubris, and the power of art to remind us that we're alive.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-01-06
- Reviewer: Staff
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. Agent: Joseph Veltre, the Gersh Agency. (Nov.)