'Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark' Hires More Help, Has Competition In 'Spider-Man Smackdown'

After the critical bashing endured by the yet-to-open $65 million musical Spider-Man: Turn of the Dark, the changes began happening quickly. According to the New York Times Broadway vet Paul Bogaev has just been hired to "help improve the performance, vocal and orchestration arrangements," Bono and the Edge are currently writing new music and producers are talking to, but have not yet hired, veteran Spider-Man writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to re-work some of the book (Broadway speak for "script"). However, contrary to reports, the production has not hired a new director. And don't forget all of this is going down just three weeks before the show's fifth scheduled opening on March 15.

Also, in almost the biggest slap in the face yet, humorist and playwright Justin Moran has launched the Spider-Man Smackdown, an initiative to write, choreograph, compose and perform a Spider-Man musical for nothing and open it a day before Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. Read details about all of this after the break.

In the New York Times piece, they confirmed a few things with show spokesman Rick Miramontez. First, the hiring of Bogaev will be far reaching. He'll not only "help improve the performance, vocal and orchestration arrangements," he's going to improve on the "sound quality of the songs and numbers." Also, though we reported to the contrary last week, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has yet to be officially hired and they flat out denied the New York Post rumors of a co-director being hired to work alongside Julie Taymor.

Even with all of these changes, Miramontez wouldn't comment if the production would still be able to officially open on March 15. But one has to assume it would be delayed again, which would be the sixth time. As someone who has tickets to the show on March 24, I'm getting very nervous.

On a much more humorous note, however, humorist and playwright Justin Moran has posed the question, "How important is $65 million in making good theater?" Apparently, not at all. He and a team of actors, writers and composers are currently working on the Spider-Man Smackdown, aka, The Spidey Project. The show has one simple aim – make a musical about Spider-Man for a budget of $0 and open it before the $65 million version. Here's a video of the latest update, followed by the press release. Thanks to Topless Robot for the heads up:

'Spiderman Smackdown' Project Aims to Launch Original Spiderman Musical on $0 Budget One Day Before $65 Million Broadway Production

Feb. 16 2011, New York, NY:  Veteran humorist and playwright, Justin Moran, launches "Spiderman Smackdown", a guerilla theatre project to write, rehearse, and perform a fully realized musical based on the character Spiderman in under 30 days with a budget of $0. Set to open one day before the $65 Million Broadway musical "Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark", Moran's musical will be the first Spiderman Musical to officially open in New York City.

Moran has launched a blog (thespideyproject.blogspot.com) and YouTube page to promote the project and to enlist a troupe of volunteer writers, designers and actors. "How important is $65 Million in making good theatre?" jokes Moran. "We're going to develop a story, write a complete musical score and script, design sets and costumes, cast, rehearse, advertise and ultimately mount the production on March 14th, 2011 at the The People's Improv Theatre in NYC."

Moran is collaborating with writer Jon Roufaeal on the story and book, based on the origin story from "the Amazing Spiderman" comic books, and has brought on composers Adam Podd (Pope the Musical, ImgineOcean) and Doug Katsaros (Broadway's Aida; Grammy nominated Footloose; TV's The Tick) to write and arrange the score. "The outpouring of volunteers in these first 4 days has been overwhelming," says Moran, "and I am extremely confident in the level of talent that is going into creating this completely original Spiderman Musical."

Justin Moran is no stranger to new thinking in creative theatre production. He is a resident writer and performer with two improv comedy groups at The Magnet Theatre in NYC, and his original musical, "Pope! The Musical" (Fringe Festival NYC 2010 Winner: Outstanding Music and Lyrics) which he wrote the book and lyrics for played off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortell Theatre in 2010. The Spidey Project will open at the People's Improv Theater (the PIT, 123 East 24th St), March 14th, 2011.

To find out more on the project or volunteer your creativity, visit http://thespideyproject.blogspot.com.

Do you think the show is actually going to open on the 15th? And do you love the idea of the Spider-Man Smackdown or does it feel like a shameless attempt at publicity?