He’s been called the Howard Hughes of rock ‘n’ roll by Fortune Magazine and when you’ve been the promoter for U2, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” tour, SARSFEST and, of course, the Rolling Stones, it’s not surprising he’s earned that sort of reputation. With an unlikely start as a strip club owner in Ottawa Michael Cohl has gone on to become the most powerful concert promoter in the world but along the way he’s also been a major backer of some of the stage’s most popular productions like The Lion King, The Producers, Spamalot and, regrettably, one of the most vilified — the musical version of The Lord of the Rings.
Recent reports confirm that Cohl is once again facing the stage lights of Broadway as he comes to the rescue of the troubled supermusical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which had been struggling to open on Broadway this season. At the request of his friend, Bono (who and along with U2 partner, the Edge, is one of the composers for the play) Cohl has agreed to become senior producer of the show though it is still unsure whether it will be ready to preview on February 25th, as originally planned, or make the Tony Awards deadline of April 29th. The original producer, David Garfinkle, couldn’t raise the necessary money for the show, and was forced to announce its imminent cancellation as the sets being constructed were ripped out of the Hilton Theatre. While, on the other hand, Cohl has been characterized by the NY Times as “as a man with deep pockets, a Rolodex packed with investors and a knack for presenting entertainment spectacles” one hopes this production will end up flying higher than the one from Middle-Earth. After all, this stage version of Spider-Man has a budget that has swelled considerably since it began and it’s expected to become the most expensive Broadway musical ever costing an estimated $50 million.