My religious views are generally agnostic, but sometimes I wonder if we're looking in the wrong places for the proof of God's existence. For example, the Spider-Man musical. Oh yes, that's correct. A Spider-Man musical. I can only glean from this information that there is a God, and he is basically Mr. Mxyzptlk. And I must be his answer to Superman as a target of his divine jokes.*
A Spider-Man musical. It's true. It's in production as we speak and it should be launched by the fall of 2009 on Broadway. It's being directed by Julie Taymor, who did the stage version of the Lion King, not to mention the films Across the Universe, Frida and the Anthony Hopkins version of Titus Andronicus, Now, the fact that there is a Spidey musical isn't altogether shocking. Given that musicals are made about virtually everything nowadays in order to prop up the struggling Broadway coffers, it's inevitable that superheroes made the leap (no Spidey pun intended) to the stage. Heck, I remember back in high school, my drama teacher actually had a musical written about Batman, based largely around the 1960's show. Apparently his attempt to get it made was, somewhat unsurprisingly, squashed by DC Comics. He should've really fought back --- if only Hamlet 2 had come out a decade earlier for inspiration.
What truly elevates this Spidey musical from 'interesting bit to pop culture' into 'a cosmic jest directed at me from a trickster god' is the fact that the music is being written by (of all people) Bono and the Edge. I am dead serious. Apparently they have 16-18 songs put together and are ready for inclusion. This was how Bono and Taymor met, incidentally, and how Bono ended up in Across the Universe. Apparently there will be a proper cast release of the music, but U2 will be putting our their own version of the musical's songs in either late 2009 or early 2010.
This is just too much. My favorite band (well, half of it) is writing the music for a show about my favorite superhero. Are you kidding me? My brain is on the verge of exploding. Now here's the rub...obviously I will be going to see this show if it ever comes to Toronto, but I'm already really, really worried it's going to be bad. Like, it'll just be cheesy as hell. I'm sure it'll be visually interesting with catchy songs and a good 'show,' but as a Spidey fan I'm afraid I'll be watching it with the same barely-concealed horror that a Fantastic Four fan must've felt watching the Jessica Alba movie, and as a U2 fan, I'm concerned at the fact that Bono & Edge are moving into the 'writing songs for musicals' stage of their careers. I mean, has that ever worked out for any major pop stars? Billy Joel's musical was a disaster. So was Paul Simon's. I guess Elton John has done okay on Broadway, but even still, it's not like Aida is one of the big highlights of his career.
There are some definite pros and cons here. Pro: a new U2 album's worth of material from this, so combined with their next studio record, it means we'll be getting TWO new releases from U2 in the next 18 months. Con: Bono and Edge writing the score probably was the reason for the delay in the studio record in the first place. Pro: hey, a Spidey musical, that's cool. Con: if it sucks, it might cause a bit of a backlash which might hurt the next two Spider-Man movies. Raimi, Maguire, Dunst, etc. have all signed on to do two more, which hopefully isn't stretching it too thin, but we'll see what Raimi can cook up next. Pro: Taymor is one of the cream of the crop when it comes to big-budget musical direction. Con: The casting sides. Arachne the mystical spider? Norman Osborn is a Ted Turner knockoff? The Spider-Geek chorus? Uh oh.
I will say this, however. If they're doing a Spider-Man musical, they absolutely, positively MUST have found room for the original Spider-Man cartoon theme song. I think I'd pay just to hear Bono do a cover of this. Also, I'd like to see a song about Mysterio to the tune of either the Foodland jingle ('Good things grow-oh oh/In On-tario!') or Ontario anthem ('A place to stand, a place to grow, Ontari-ari-ari-ohhh'). Or wait, forget Mysterio or the Goblin, the villain should be Electro just because his name is already so lyrical. His signature number could be a reworked version of U2's song 'Electric Co' with a tacked-on chorus of "Hello hello/I am a villain called Electro/I'm a hood you wish you didn't know/Now let me/Find something/I can steeeealllll.....steeeeeEEEEEEEalll....."
* = You can read more about this theory in my upcoming book The Mxyzptlk Delusion. Or, my upcoming children's novel, Are You There Mxy? It's Me, Teragram. It's about the first time I had my period. Though, as it turns out, I was eating at an Italian restaurant and merely spilled some marinara sauce in my lap. Come to think of this, this makes my entire chapter titled "Calzones: A Handy Makeshift Tampon" entirely inaccurate. Rewrites!
EP81: Casting Director Sheila Guthrie: Part One
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