‘Spider-Man’ Actor Goes Green a Second Time
Patrick Page Prepares for Goblin Role At Same Theatre He Played the Grinch
by Ellen Gamerman
September 20, 2010
The cast of Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark is scheduled to start rehearsing in the show’s Broadway theater on Monday. One actor, Patrick Page, has been there before: In 2006-07, he played the Grinch on the same stage.
Once again, he plays a green villain: Norman Osborn, the scientist who transforms into the scheming Green Goblin in Spider-Man at the Foxwoods Theatre (when he performed there in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! it was called the Hilton Theatre).
Mr. Page, the 48-year-old son of a Shakespearean actor, was offered the Spider-Man role in the spring. The show had suffered delays and cash-flow problems, and actor Alan Cumming had just withdrawn as the Goblin, citing a scheduling conflict. At the time, Mr. Page was packing his bags to leave New York for San Diego, about to start rehearsing The Madness of George III. When he got the Spider-Man call, he quit that job.
Now the growly-voiced stage veteran is entering the home stretch in preparations for Spider-Man, which at roughly $60 million is set to become Broadway’s most expensive musical ever. Directed by Julie Taymor (The Lion King) with music by U2’s Bono and the Edge, the show has been rehearsing in a New York studio, but given its technical complexities, actors are moving into the theater unusually early—the first preview is set for Nov. 14. The Wall Street Journal recently spoke with Mr. Page.
WSJ: What were you doing when you found out you got the role?
Mr. Page: I was sitting on a meditation cushion and the phone rang and my agent said, “I’m going to make your weekend very difficult.”
Did you say yes on the spot?
No, because I had already so committed myself to these other characters that I really loved…. I was also playing the Fool in King Lear. I said, “I need to call you back in an hour.” It just took me that time.
Did Bono sing his lyrics for you, showing you how to do it?
He didn’t sing for me. I sang for him, which was much scarier. But they would rewrite things as we went along. I have a piece of sheet music where Edge has rewritten in new notes and new lyrics and things like that.
What was your Spider-Man audition like?
Spider-Man was fun because we knew we were going to read the sides [parts of the script used in auditions], so those I got probably 20 minutes before I went in. But they’d asked us to prepare a rock song, and I was such a nerd when I was in high school and college that I really didn’t know any rock songs. I mean—not to sing. One night I was lying in bed, it just came to me. I should sing “Welcome to My Nightmare” by Alice Cooper. So I did, and did it as a kind of transformation from Norman into the Goblin.
What were you listening to in high school?
My dad listened to classical music, so that’s what I listened to. He listened to a lot of Baroque music. I told you, I was a complete nerd.
Can you describe one of your musical numbers?
The first number I sing is essentially a waltz. It’s a wonderful rock waltz, but it’s a waltz, and I’ve never really learned how to waltz. So the other day we were rehearsing and…Julie jumped up and was showing me how to waltz.… I look out the window down to 42nd Street where…there’s an enormous sign for The Lion King, and I have the woman who made it in my arms and I’m waltzing around to this music that was written by Bono and Edge and I really thought, “I have to be dreaming.”
And then you stepped on her toe and realized you weren’t.
Believe me, the waltz wasn’t yet dream perfect. But I’m getting better at it.
There’s a lot of pressure on Spider-Man to deliver. Does meditating keep you calm about that?
It’s very easy when you’re in a project that’s so wonderful and has such possibilities for your mind to begin leaping into the future, or crawling back to the past in some way. It’s just a way of helping me bring myself into the present so that I can enjoy all of the wonderful things that are happening.