by Aaron Einhorn
Perhaps in response to the frequent injuries which have plagued the production, a lead actress for Julie Taymor’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has decided to leave the show. According to the New York Times, Natalie Mendoza, who plays Arachnae, and who suffered a concussion during the first preview performance of the show, is leaving the production.
According to sources within the production who spoke on condition of anonymity, Mendoza’s representatives and the producers of Spider-Man have been working on an exit agreement for days now, and an official statement is expected as early as Tuesday.
While we can expect the official statement to spin this as delicately as possible (losing a lead actress after the show has gone into previews is, at best, embarrassing, and at worst, highly damaging), the truth of the mater is probably this. Ms. Mendoza, who has already been injured working on the show, is only the first of four who have been hurt in this production. Several of the injuries have been very serious, most notably the fall suffered by Chris Tierney. Considering that, as Arachnae, Mendoza is also in a flying harness similar to the one that Tierney uses, it is really no surprise that Mendoza is considering leaving the show.
The honest truth is that, by all accounts, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is dangerous. While several actors and crew members have spoken about new safety measures, it’s hard to take their words at face value. Actors and crew get invested in a production, and don’t want to see their hard work pulled short before the show is seen by audiences. Actors frequently feel invulnerable, and will take risks they shouldn’t. I’ve seen it happen first hand in numerous stage productions involving stunts, so I can’t imagine it is any less likely for a Broadway show where the stakes are even higher.
I am not an 0utright hater of the idea of a Spider-Man musical. And if asked a year ago, I couldn’t have imagined a production team better than Julie Taymor’s to create the show. But at this point, I think that the only responsible choice is to table the show until it can be reworked – both creatively and from a safety standpoint. I suspect that Ms. Mendoza’s departure will only be the first of many we can expect to see from this production.
(Source: New York Times)