Julie Taymor, caught in a spidery web

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Julie Taymor was surrounded by some accomplished artists talking about some scholarly concepts. U2’s Bono was talking with Russell Brand about the actor’s costarring role in Taymor’s “The Tempest” and the Edge was trying to explain the musical roots of Bulgarian choral arrangements. Yet the person Taymor was most interested in cornering in the middle of rehearsals for the new musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” was production stage manager C. Randall White.

White essentially was playing a complicated version of the children’s game “Red Light, Green Light,” telling Taymor and her cast and crew over a public address system when the rehearsal could proceed, and when it had to be halted for technical or safety reasons.


In some instances, Taymor was able only to run through a few seconds of the show before Wallace put on the brakes. At other times, Taymor was permitted to rehearse entire “Spider-Man” scenes, even if they were done at 50% of their normal pace.

Half speed is a foreign concept to Taymor, whose theater, opera and filmmaking career is a diverse collage of visual and storytelling influences. While many of her productions play to niche audiences, her “Spider-Man” musical is intended to (and must, if it’s ever to make a profit) appeal to the widest possible spectrum of ticket buyers.

Click here for a closer look at Taymor’s artistic goals for “Spider-Man” and her thoughts about popular culture, Shakespeare and the nation’s obsession with show business finances.

--John Horn