In spite of the latest opening night delay for the big-budget Broadway musical Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark, director Julie Taymor can count on the support of a very powerful super-fan: Oprah Winfrey. In a wide-ranging interview published in the February 2011 issue of O: The Oprah Magazine, Winfrey gives big love to Taymor, gushing that after watching bits of the show in November, before previews began, “It was clear when I left the rehearsal: This show would be worth it. In fact, after watching just a couple of numbers, I called my office and told them to clear the decks for opening night: ‘I have to be there!’…[Taymor] calls the show a spectacle. I call it—and her—spectacular.”
In the Q&A portion of the feature, Taymor explains that the mythical character of Arachne (now played by T.V. Carpio) was key to her overall vision of the stage musical. “Once I got the idea of Arachne, I realized that this would be a love triangle. And that it would be a great thing for a musical. Because you have to have a dilemma. What is Peter singing about? He's an action hero when he puts on the suit, but when he's Peter Parker, when the costume is off and no one knows that he's Spider-Man, he's a troubled teenager.... So there is a lot for him to be singing about.”
Taymor compares Peter Parker’s sudden onset of powers after a spider bite to the fame experienced by Spider-Man composer Bono and other members of U2: “The reason Bono and Edge can write these songs is that they get the dilemma, which is: How do you be a superhero, save the world, and also be a dad and husband and drink in your pub and just be a guy? How do you balance those identities?”
It’s clear that Winfrey, whose eponymous TV network was just about to launch at the time of this interview, feels a bond with Taymor over the challenge of doing creative work under public scrutiny. When the talk show queen inquires about the media attention given to Spider-Man, Taymor responds, “You know what that's like.” Oprah says, “You just gotta deal with it.”
Later, Winfrey tries to get Taymor to brag on herself: “I told you as I came in today that I feel so proud of you. Do you feel proud of yourself?” Taymor sensibly responds, “Not yet.” Oprah presses: “Come on. Just a little?” Taymor muses, “You know what I'm proud of? The women. In so many stories, it's always about the guy. But the Arachne character we're creating is going to blow people away.”
In the end, Taymor outlines her overall goal for Spider-Man, which is now scheduled to open on March 15 at the Foxwoods Theatre: "I want the audience to feel spiritually moved, excited and exhilarated by possibility. Touched by the hero epic, which tells you that you must sacrifice in order to have it all. That we can't be content to think only about ourselves, that there is a much greater destiny and a greater world out there."