When Jennifer Damiano departs Next to Normal tonight, she will be beginning a new chapter in her career: the next big project. While no official statement on casting has been made, the New York Times reports that Damiano has signed on to play Mary Jane in the upcoming mega musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Despite the mountain of publicity this will bring her, is becoming Spider-Man’s girlfriend the best move for a Tony-nominated actress known for playing three-dimensional women?
Since debuting on Broadway in the original cast of Spring Awakening in the ensemble and as an understudy, Damiano’s career has included co-headlining concerts at Joe’s Pub and her acclaimed performance as Natalie in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal. These are tremendous accomplishments for a 19-year-old actress. Her involvement in Spring Awakening and Next to Normal, both Tony nominees for Best Musical (Spring won in 2007), both box offices successes and beloved by critics, has established her as an artsy-type actress. Starring in Spider-Man will shake up this trend.
Spring Awakening and Next to Normal were both “indie” musicals that began off Broadway. Neither were expected to achieve the level of success that they did when they transferred. Granted, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has been plagued by production and financial issues. It’s original big-name stars—Evan Rachel Wood, who was originally supposed to play Mary Jane, and Alan Cumming as Green Goblin—dropped out. Just this Friday, Broadway’s largest PR firm Boneau/Bryan-Brown resigned from Spider-Man’s account. Nevertheless, the show has Marvel Entertainment backing it. It has been reported that the undertaking of this musical has cost upwards of $50 million. This is no Spring Awakening or Next to Normal. Read more