Ex­pen­sive Spi­der­man show trad­ing Broad­way for Ve­gas

The Washington Times Daily - - Tteelleevviissiion - BY MARK KENNEDY

NEW YORK | One of the lead producers of Broad­way’s “Spi­der-Man: Turn Off the Dark” says mov­ing the show to Las Ve­gas makes sense be­cause Sin City has al­ways been a bet­ter fit for the splashy mu­si­cal than the Great White Way.

“We can have a more ex­cit­ing and bet­ter show in Las Ve­gas. To me, Las Ve­gas is the town of show busi­ness,” Michael Cohl said Tues­day, a day af­ter an­nounc­ing the Broad­way ver­sion would close in Jan­uary. “If you look at our show, it’s much, much more a spec­ta­cle and a Ve­gas show than a Broad­way show. So I think we’re go­ing to have a great time there.”

Mr. Cohl said he and pro­ducer Jeremiah J. Har­ris de­cided to pull the plug on the New York ver­sion af­ter the show — among Broad­way’s big­gest earn­ers for years — sprung a leak this sum­mer and never re­cov­ered. It last broke the $1 mil­lion mark in mid-Au­gust and has limped through a dis­mal fall. Producers had said it needed to make $1.2 mil­lion a week just to break even.

“It’s no se­cret that Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber were not a lot of fun. It was scream­ing at us: ‘The time has come.’ And so there it is. It’s come,” Mr. Cohl said. “We ex­pect to have a good run through the rest of the year, and the last cou­ple of weeks of De­cem­ber we ex­pect to be fan­tas­tic be­cause they have been the last years.”

Last week, the show took in just $742,595, less than half its $1,543,508 po­ten­tial de­spite a Fox­woods The­atre that was three-quar­ters full. The mu­si­cal, with songs by U2’s Bono and The Edge, is now rou­tinely dis­count­ing tick­ets.

“Spi­der-Man: Turn Off the Dark” — Broad­way’s most ex­pen­sive show, with a price tag of $75 mil­lion — had a rocky start, with six de­lays in its open­ing night, in­juries to sev­eral ac­tors, a shake-up that led to the fir­ing of orig­i­nal di­rec­tor Julie Tay­mor and crit­i­cal drub­bing.

The show be­gan pre­views in late 2010 but didn’t of­fi­cially open un­til mid-June 2011, long af­ter many crit­ics had al­ready tired of the de­lays and writ­ten crush­ing re­views. Some 2 mil­lion peo­ple have seen it, and it will have played 1,268 per­for­mances when it closes on Jan. 4.

Of the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to aban­don New York, Mr. Cohl was philo­soph­i­cal: “It’s not heart-wrench­ing. Heartwrench­ing is when your kid is sick in the hos­pi­tal.” The num­bers were sim­ply no longer there: It at­tracted 9,000 ticket buy­ers a week but needed 10,000 or 11,000.

He added that there were eco­nomic ad­van­tages to clos­ing and hav­ing the Ve­gas show use some el­e­ments of the Broad­way pro­duc­tion. And look­ing ahead of­fered no respite: Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary are of­ten cold and lonely months on the Great White Way.

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