Curse of the Spider-Man? Fourth accident for troubled Broadway production

Dec. 21, 2010 | 8:09 a.m.

From the Associated Press

bono and julie taymor Curse of the Spider Man? Fourth accident for troubled Broadway production

Bono and Julie Taymor. (Credit: Joan Marcus)

The Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” experienced its fourth accident since it began previews last month as an actor performing an aerial stunt fell about 30 feet, New York fire officials said.

Firefighters were called to the Foxwoods Theatre at about 10:45 p.m. Monday after the 31-year-old actor fell near the end of the latest preview performance. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital with minor injuries, police said.

Police did not release the actor’s name, but a performer in the show identified him as Christopher Tierney. The performer spoke on condition of anonymity because the performer was not authorized to speak publicly about the accident. A nurse at Bellevue Hospital said a Christopher Tierney was admitted and was in stable condition but would not provide details. Tierney is the show’s main aerialist and performs stunts for the roles of Spider-Man and the villains Meeks and Kraven.

The cable to Tierney’s harness snapped during a scene in which Spider-Man rescues his love interest, Mary Jane, the performer said. It was unclear if Tierney was properly harnessed when the cable snapped. The performer said the show’s actors were responsible for hooking themselves up to harnesses used for aerial stunts. A spokesman for “Spider-Man,” Rick Miramontez, said an announcement would be made later Tuesday regarding the refund/exchange policy for Monday night’s aborted performance. There is no performance Tuesday night, which previously had been scheduled as a dark night, Miramontez said. Producers were to discuss if Wednesday’s shows would go on.

Actress Natalie Mendoza, who plays Spider-Man’s evil love interest Arachne and was injured herself during the show’s first preview last month, posted a Twitter message asking people to pray for the actor. “Please pray with me for my friend Chris, my superhero who quietly inspires me everyday with his spirit. A light in my heart went dim tonight.”

turn out the dark Curse of the Spider Man? Fourth accident for troubled Broadway production

"Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." (Credit: Joan Marcus)

Miramontez said the fall happened about seven minutes before the end of the performance, and the show was stopped. “All signs were good as he was taken to the hospital for observation,” Miramontez said.

Maria Somma, a spokeswoman for Actors Equity, said the union was told about the accident shortly after it happened Monday night. “We are working in cooperation with the state and city Department of Labor on this situation,” Somma said.

On Friday, the show’s lead producer, Michael Cohl, delayed the show’s official opening for the second time, pushing it back 27 days, from Jan. 11 to Feb. 7. In a statement that day, Cohl said, “The creative team is implementing truly exciting changes throughout the preview process. Due to some unforeseeable setbacks, most notably the injury of a principal cast member, it has become clear that we need to give the team more time to fully execute their vision.”

The $65-million musical was conceived by Tony Award-winning director and co-writer Julie Taymor and U2‘s Bono and the Edge, who wrote the music. More than eight years in the making, delays and money woes have plagued the show’s launch. Three other accidents have injured actors, including one who had both his wrists broken while practicing an aerial stunt.

The show’s massive costs — a 41-member cast, 18 orchestra members, complicated sets and 27 daring aerial stunts, including a battle between two characters over the audience — mean the 1,928-seat theater will have to virtually sell out every show for several years just to break even. The weekly running bill has been put as high as $1 million. (Tickets are priced from $67.50 to $135 for weekday performances and $67.50 to $140 for weekend performances.) The first preview on Nov. 28 did not go well. The musical had to be halted five times because of technical glitches, and Mendoza was hit in the head by a rope and suffered a concussion. Her injury would eventually keep her sidelined for two weeks.

The show — with costs that easily dwarf Broadway’s last costliest show, the $25-million “Shrek: The Musical” — may be about a comic-book hero, but it has now itself become easy fodder for comics, with both Conan O’Brien and “Saturday Night Live” spoofing it.

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