Calamity struck, and it was a real-life albeit small calamity — not some tedious, confusing tripe involving a pretty girl dangling from a skyscraper and supervillains laying siege to Manhattan. And not the more general and seriously depressing disaster that was the sum of the mismatched parts that had been assembled onstage. No, an honest-to-gosh, show-stopping glitch occurred, just as the title character of this new musical was about to vanquish or be vanquished by the evil Green Goblin. And for the first time that night something like genuine pleasure spread through the house.
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But in , when Berger was hired to work on a Broadway musical adaptation of Spider-Man , it seemed like a dream come true for the well-respected but financially struggling playwright. Everyone involved thought the show would be brilliant. But for a while everything seemed to be on track, with the script and music earning high praise from test audiences. But soon a string of mishaps plagued the production, from financing woes to technical glitches to injuries on set. When Taymor refused to change course, producers replaced her with former circus director Phil McKinley, whose family-friendly revamp became a fair financial success, while falling far short of brilliance. Berger chronicles the adventure in his memoir Song of Spider-Man , which should stand beside Oedipus Rex as a warning on the dangers of hubris.
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The story incorporates elements of the Spider-Man film and the Greek myth of Arachne. It includes highly technical stunts, such as aerial combat scenes and actors swinging from "webs". The Broadway production was notorious for its many troubles. Several actors were injured performing stunts and the opening night was repeatedly delayed, causing some critics to review the "unfinished" production in protest. Long-time Spider-Man comics writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa was brought in to revise the story and book. Director Julie Taymor , whose vision had driven the concept of the musical, was replaced by creative consultant Philip William McKinley. By the time Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark officially opened on June 14, ,  it had set the record for the longest preview period in Broadway history, with performances. Critical reception of the opening was better than for the previews, but mixed, with praise for the visual effects but little enthusiasm for the book and score. Although often described as a rock musical , the production "treads new ground" that some commentators have asserted "have effectively distanced it from its peers—and caused some confusion when it comes time to describe the show.