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'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark': It's time for Bono to face the music

U2’s frontman will be writing at least two new songs for the beleaguered musical

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How do you solve a problem like Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark? That’s what producers of the famously troubled $65 million musical must figure out after parting ways with co-writer/director Julie Taymor, hiring a new director and writer, and postponing the official opening for a fourth time. With the premiere now set for June 14, what’s the best way to untangle this messy, injury-prone web? We’ll overlook the nonsensical title and ludicrous second act, and concentrate on the rock musical’s fundamental flaw: The songs — composed by U2’s Bono (inset) and The Edge — are just not rocking. In fact, a couple of hours after a recent performance, it was hard to recall a single riff, lyric, or melody — this from a band that’s sold 150 million records and won 22 Grammy awards. What gives? Reportedly Bono didn’t even get to see the show until early January, but a source close to the production says he and The Edge will be ”heavily involved” in the reconstruction, with plans to write at least two new songs. Perhaps they should consider adding a few more; with the exception of two numbers — ”Rise Above” and ”The Boy Falls From the Sky” — the current compositions are all pale shadows of the band’s usual work. Tellingly, Dark’s current musical highlight comes early in the first act: A car drives across the stage with the radio on, and nine or so instantly catchy notes float out. It’s the opening of ”New Year’s Day” from U2’s 1983 album War. Hey, it’s a starting point!

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