Taymor and Oprah at Foxwoods Theatre on Broadway.
On a chilly Sunday last November when I was hanging out with Bono and friends, he invited me to stop by Broadway's Foxwoods Theatre to check in on his latest project—the much-anticipated musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Along with his U2 bandmate the Edge, Bono wrote the songs for the show, and they're fantastic. But the concept for the story and the overall creative vision belong to the brilliant Julie Taymor.
Julie is the director who brought the world the Broadway version of The Lion King
—and designed its unforgettable costumes, to boot. With Spider-Man
, she's not only the director and (along with Glen Berger) cowriter; she also created the characters' stunning masks and helped conceive the awe-inspiring sets. Despite criticism that Spider-Man
is the most expensive musical ever (production costs of $60 million and counting), as well as one plagued by delays, it was clear when I left the rehearsal: This show would be worth it. In fact, after watching just a couple of numbers, I called my office and told them to clear the decks for opening night: "I have to be there!"
Growing up outside Boston, Julie was involved with theater by the age of 9. But her imagination reaches well beyond musicals and plays: Even as she was putting the finishing touches on Spider-Man
, she was getting ready for the December premiere of her latest movie, The Tempest
(her second Shakespeare film—in 1999 she directed Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange in Titus
, her out-there adaptation of Titus Andronicus
). Meanwhile, New York City's Metropolitan Opera was preparing to restage her production of the Mozart opera The Magic Flute
. It seems there's nothing she can't do.
In 2001 I interviewed Julie at the Manhattan home she shares with her longtime love, the composer Elliot Goldenthal. In those days, she and Elliot were enjoying The Lion King
's stratospheric success. This time when we spoke—at Foxwoods, the day after I dropped in on the rehearsal, and just a few weeks before the start of previews—she was still working out her new show's kinks. Julie wants Spider-Man
to be perfect. She's a person who gravitates to "big, mythic things." She wants to leave her audiences with a feeling of awe, a sense of having been spiritually moved. She calls the show a spectacle. I call it—and her—spectacular.
Start reading Oprah's interview with Julie Taymor