Lead Actress Departs Spidey Musical

I can't entirely say that Marvel can't catch a break. Sure, "Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark" has been plagued with problems, but the show is continuing on as they say. The latest setback might be one that's a little more difficult to recover from though as one of the lead actresses is departing from the show. According to the NY Times Natalie Mendoza is leaving production.

The biggest reason for the departure would probably be the concussion she suffered last month during a preview performance. Her representatives and show producers have been working on an exit agreement for a few days now and an official statement is expected any day now. They're essentially hammering out what to say regarding her departure as yet another blow to the show could be somewhat detrimental to its prospects. Her last performance was December 20 and calls to her and her spokesman have gone unanswered. Why is this a big deal?

Mendoza portrayed Arachne, a villainess with a major role in Peter Parker's transformation into Spider-man. The character is a creation of the show's director, Julie Taymor, and came about after she had a dream about a teenager turning into a powerful superhuman. Much of Act II revolved around Arachne and apparently Taymor collaborated heavily with Mendoza in creating a distinct look and manner for the character. Arachne also has some pretty big musical numbers, including the title number and five other songs including "Rise Above" (an Act I turning point) and the finale "Love Me or Kill Me.”

This is a big deal on multiple accounts. It's a big deal for Mendoza, as this was to be her Broadway debut. It's a big deal for Marvel and Taymor because seriously, this show has been beset by problems since its creation. Having one of the lead actors depart this close to the show's opening (now in February apparently) is a massive blow that could be the one that knocks the show out completely. Sure I'm being a little fatalistic here but at what point does the show not go on? Mendoza suffered the concussion as a result of a rope holding equipment hitting her offstage. It was such a hit that she felt the need to post the below on her Facebook page:

“Thank goodness I had such a brilliant neurologist who made sure I recovered properly,” she wrote. “Nice to be almost back to normal … almost anyway haha! Thanking God for peace, real friends, love and health and healing.”

I'll admit that I'm somewhat excited for the musical. Something like this has never really been attempted before, nevermind with a character as high profile as Spider-man. It seems like every night at this point though something else has happened as a setback and the body count is at four actors/stuntmen now. Marvel will keep on it because they've invested too much at this point, but we'll see if they actually make their February 7 debut date.