December 12, 2017
Friday, January 3, 2014

Spider-Man leaves Broadway, but a part of it stays

By Mark Kennedy

NEW YORK — Before Spider-Man takes his final bow on Broadway this weekend, the show is swinging into history in another way.

Producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark said yesterday that the Smithsonian Institution is inducting one of the hero’s first costumes into the permanent collection at the National Museum of American History in Washington.

The red-and-blue costume designed by Eiko Ishioka and worn by actor Reeve Carney will join a collection of iconic Americana that boasts the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, a Kermit the Frog puppet, the first car driven across the United States, a lock of Sir Walter Scott’s hair, Tony Hawk’s first skateboard and a light bulb made by Thomas Edison.

Ishioka, an Academy Award-winner who designed surrealistic costumes for such films as Mirror Mirror, The Cell and Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, earned a Tony nomination for her big, bold costumes for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, including the tricky task of freshening Spider-Man’s iconic look. To make it, Ishioka, who died in 2012, came up with a new spider design on the costume’s chest and had to make sure her new suit didn’t stray too far from Marvel Comic’s signature look, according to Tracy Roberts, Ishioka’s studio manager. Ishioka ignored the comic book’s Crayola-like blue and red for a sophisticated ombre effect in which shades of colour graduate from light to dark or dark to light. A close look at Spider-Man’s suit reveals many variations of color as the red arms gradually bleed into the blue legs. “She wanted to make it her own, and I think she achieved that in a really great way by painting within the lines but really giving it her own spin,” said Roberts.

Roberts, who is eager for the general public to appreciate Ishioka’s diverse designs legacy, said the Smithsonian’s honour is a “wonderful way to recognize her body of work.” Among Ishioka’s accomplishments were the sets and costumes for David Henry Hwang’s 1988 drama M. Butterfly and the costumes for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. “It’s wonderful that this great designer from Japan who has done so many different international design projects would find her work at this incredibly iconic American place,” said Roberts. “It’s a great honour.” Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark became a hit and was among Broadway’s biggest earners.

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