"I met Michael and Julie [Taymor, the director] at a party," recalled Lee. "I was just making conversation and I said, 'You should do a Magnificent Marvel Musical about our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man - he could swing stirringly from the ceiling and sing songs, and you'd have the combined might of Marvel's Merry Marchers behind you. Excelsior!'"Even I have no idea what I'm talking about when I say this stuff," said Lee.
"I remember thinking, if Stan Lee thinks this is a good idea, maybe we can make it work," says Cohl, whose Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark has gone millions over budget and been delayed four times thanks to technical snafus and cast injuries. "I figured this is a man who's really a pioneering creative genius."
Reminded that Lee's company Stan Lee Media actually had to declare bankruptcy in 2001, Cohl responded, "Well, I know that now."
Taymor said she was also impressed by the fervor of Lee's pitch. "He was absolutely right - Spider-Man is a genuine American myth with a dark, primal power," says Taymor, who directed the hit Broadway adaptation of The Lion King. "But as it turns out it's a lot harder to make a real guy fly around a theater than a cardboard bird."
The show is meant to feature elaborate acrobatic battle sequences, and rehearsals have resulted in several concussions, two broken wrists and various strains and sprains among cast members, along with an allergic reaction to the chemicals and adhesives in Spider-Man's webbing that sent three stagehands to the hospital and required the response of a New York City HazMat team.
"It's a veritable bloodbath," said the New York Observer's Rex Reed, who has covered the city's theater scene extensively. "Broadway hasn't seen this many injuries since Rex Harrison turned up soused to a performance of My Fair Lady and passed out on Julie Andrews and Robert Coote.
"Sometimes I crack myself up," added Reed.