- Associated Press - Thursday, March 10, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) — The Tony Award winning director of “The Lion King,” will no longer direct Broadway’s troubled “Spider-Man” musical as producers announced a new creative team and postponed the show’s official opening to summer.

Julie Taymor, who also co-wrote the book for “Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark,” will remain a part of the new team, lead producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris said Wednesday, in announcing an unprecedented sixth delay for the musical.

Julie Taymor is not leaving the creative team. Her vision has been at the heart of this production since its inception and will continue to be so,” the producers said in a statement. “Julie’s previous commitments mean that past March 15, she cannot work the 24/7 necessary to make the changes in the production in order to be ready for our opening.”

On Wednesday, a friend and longtime associate said the lack of time to hone the show had been one of Taymor’s great frustrations.

“She’s been distraught that there’s so little time to rehearse,” said Jeffrey Horowitz, artistic director of the Theatre for a New Audience.

Also distressing to Taymor has been the tenor of much of the news coverage and online chatter. “It’s hard — I try not to look,” she told The Associated Press in a brief conversation in December. She more recently referred to her troubles during a talk at TED, an annual tech conference held this year in Long Beach, Calif.

“I’m in ‘The Crucible’ right now,” she said, referring to the Arthur Miller play about the Salem witch trials. “It’s trial by fire.”

The show’s representative, Rick Miramontez, said no performances will be canceled during the overhaul.

Philip William McKinley and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa have joined the $65 million production to assist with new staging and rewrites for the show, which was to have opened on March 15. Musical consultants Paul Bogaev and sound designer Peter Hylenski are also on the new team.

Bogaev, who won a Tony nomination in 2004 for his work on “Bombay Dreams,” has a history of working with rock musicians who craft musicals, including “Tarzan” with Phil Collins and “Aida” with Elton John. Hylenski worked on “Elf,” ”Shrek” and “Scottsboro Boys,” among other shows.

Taymor’s directing duties will be handled by McKinley, who directed “The Boy From Oz” (2003) and “The Night of the Hunter” (2006). Aguirre-Sacasa worked on HBO’s “Big Love” and has written for Marvel comics, and wrote the play “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” based on the Oscar Wilde novel.

The delay has taken the show out of the running for Tony Award consideration this year, but it will be eligible for the 2012 season.

The stunt-heavy and highly visual musical was co-written by Taymor and Glen Berger, and has music by U2’s Bono and The Edge.

“This is an epic ride, and the standing ovations we have seen from the preview audiences have confirmed our absolute faith in the project,” Bono and The Edge said in a statement. “We are listening and learning and, as a result, we have a couple of new songs we are very very excited about putting into the mix.”

The unusual move to again delay the show came as “Spider-Man” continues to defy the reviews and post impressive numbers at the box office. It was the second highest-grossing show on Broadway this week, after “Wicked,” pulling in close to $1.3 million — though it was slightly down from the week before.

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