It looks like December will be a big month for the gifted film & theatre director, Julie Taymor. She has 2 highly anticipated openings. One a film, the other a Broadway musical. Both of these projects have been around for quite a while, due to various delays, whether it was financing, or distribution hell.
December 10, sees her film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, opening in the US. It premieres as closing night film at the Venice film festival, Sept 11.
December 21 sees her adaptation of the Marvel comic book hero Spiderman, into a mega Broadway musical, “Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark”. (previews begin Nov 14)
Whatever the outcome, they are sure to be spectacular entertainments.
I thought it would be fun to blab about them both.
First of all, lets talk about Julie Taymor. An acclaimed director of opera, theatre & film. Her style is highly visual, and often uses puppetry & masks. She was the first woman to win a Tony award for directing a musical (The Lion King), she also won for costume design the same year. Her film work incorporates her highly theatrical style. Films she has directed in the past include: an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (Titus), the biopic of reknown Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (Frida), and the Beatle’s musical tribute to the 60’s (Across The Universe). All films I greatly admire. She is married to the composer Eliot Goldenthal, a frequent collaborator. Doris & Wanda are great fans of hers also, they gave me a great book on her productions, a book I love to look at time and time again.
The Tempest has been finished for quite a while, (filming commenced in Nov 2008 )it has remained in distribution limbo for some reason. Based on Shakespeare’s play, Taymor has changed the gender of the main character, Prospero (a male), to Prospera ( a female), played by Dame Helen Mirren. Interesting!
Plot revolves around Prospera who is banished into exile by her late husband’s brother, who wants to have the kingdom to himself. She is washed up on an island, and plots to get back at the men who wronged her.
It has an excellent cast to enjoy. Alfred Molina, Alan Cumming, David Strathairn, Djimon Hounsou, Chris Cooper, Ben Whishaw, to name a few.
Production design is by the talented Mark Friedberg (Across The Universe, Far From Heaven). Costumes are by 3 time Oscar winner, Sandy Powell (The Aviator, Velvet Goldmine). So expect a visual treat. I would also expect to see it garner a few Oscar nominations in the technical categories, and possibly for Helen Mirren.
I am not sure of the release date here in Australia, but I expect it could be in the new year.
SPIDERMAN: TURN OFF THE DARK
Now this is a curiosity, if ever there was.
Long in gestation, it was due to open in January of this year. Due to many financial problems, and a whopping budget reported to be $50 milliion, it is finally about to swing onto the great white way. With music & lyrics by Bono & The Edge (U2), and a book by Taymor herself, cowritten with playwrite Glen Berger.
All about the comic book hero Peter Parker, who once bitten by a radioactive spider, becomes Spiderman. Capable of swinging from building to building with his spidey talents. He has a lovely girlfriend Mary Jane, and an arch nemesis The Green Goblin. Expect visual acrobatics as people from Cirque du Soleil are involved. I have heard there is also a full size subway car that spins around the theatre? She created a visual masterpiece with The Lion King, I am sure she won’t disappoint again. We will just have to wait and see what the rest of it is like.
She has an array of talented collaborators. Her set designer is George Typsin (reknown for his opera designs, and The Little Mermaid on Broadway), her lighting designer is 2 time Tony winner, Donald Holder (Lion King, South Pacific). I thought the lighting in South Pacific was sublime. As her costume designer she has recruited the immensely talented Japanese designer Eiko Ishioka, an Oscar winner for Dracula, and responsible for the outlandish costumes for Tarsen Singh’s The Cell & The Fall, not to mention production designer for Paul Schrader’s film Mishima, and recently costumes for Grace Jone’s concert tour. (I will include some images of her work)
Starring as Spidey is newcomer Reeve Carney, who has a rock band called, funny that – Carney. He also appears as Ferninand in The Tempest. He is very easy on the eye, I am sure fans will be lining up outside the stage door. Starring as Mary Jane is Jennifer Damiano, a Tony nominee for her role as the troubled daughter in Next To Normal. I was lucky enough to see her in that part, and she has oodles of talent, and a great singing voice. As the Green Goblin we have Broadway veteran Patrick Page (used to green make-up, he played the Grinch in the Christmas musical hit), he was also in Beauty & The Beast, and Lion King.
I would dearly love to see Spiderman, I hope it is a huge success, as it has had it’s fair share of doomsayers. I guess at $50 million bucks it had better be good, and sell out for the next decade. The Lion King still plays to almost capacity after more than a decade, so there is hope. I also expect my NY friends to see it post haste so I can get a full report. I will include my 2 pics I took of the theatre billboard and the bump in of equipment ( a re-post), it got me very excited.
A trip to NYC is looking good, with this one, and Women On The Verge on the horizon too. First I will be happy to see The Tempest.