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Will Broadway's 'Spider-Man' break through its tangled web?

By Maggie Lake, CNN
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Can 'Spider-Man' musical make money?
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Getting the production to opening night has cost an estimated $80 million
  • Musical collaborators are U2 bandmates Bono and the Edge
  • They have added several new songs, while rewriting a few others
  • The show must gross more than $1 million a week to meet costs

New York (CNN) -- If "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" can rise above devastating reviews and headline-grabbing injuries, much of the credit will go to director Philip William McKinley.

McKinley was hired four months ago to salvage the troubled show, which officially opens Tuesday evening.

"Well, they say I'm either the bravest or stupidest man in New York," McKinley said.

As stuntmen flew overhead before an afternoon matinee preview, McKinley says he took the job in large part because of the commitment of the show's team.

"From what the cast had gone through, I knew they had the dedication, the creativity, the formidability to do it. And that meant a great deal to me," he said.

McKinley, a Broadway veteran, has the creative experience for the job.

When "Spider-Man 2.0," the nickname for the retooled version, opens, it will have gone through millions of dollars in development costs, six delayed openings and a record-setting 180 preview performances.

The original concept for "Spider-Man" was the vision of Julie Taymor, the Tony Award-winning director of the stage version of The Lion King. She was pushed aside by producers in March, although she reportedly retains some involvement in the show.

Musical collaborators are U2 bandmates Bono and the Edge, who wrote the show's music and lyrics, stayed on and added several new songs while rewriting a few others. Also added to the revamped show are an additional five flying sequences and expanded roles for Aunt May, Uncle Ben and love-interest Mary Jane Watson.

But despite the changes, many fear the worst for the show financially.

Foxwoods Theatre is one of the largest on Broadway. If "Spider-Man" is going to be successful, the show will have to fill the seats in the house for years to come.

"The weekly running costs just to pay the actors, the stagehands and all that stuff is $1.3 million," said NY Post Theater Critic Michael Riedel. "Now the show is grossing, according to Variety, over a million dollars a week. But that's just breaking even. They haven't even begun to chip away at the $80 million production costs."

Still, McKinley says audiences seem to love the show. And from the very first preview since the big revamp, the cast has been pumped, he said.

"The magical moment was when the curtain went down, the cast completely lost all their composure, began jumping up and down, began high-fiving each other like at a baseball game or a football game," he said. "They were just cheering. "

"The song in the show, 'Rise Above,' that's kind of become our motto and kind of become the anthem."

 
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