'Spider-Man' injury cancels matinee, prompts new safeguards
As a “Spider-Man” stuntman hurt in a terrifying 30-foot on-stage plunge recovers from serious injuries, the cursed Broadway show will sling its Web again tonight — and leery theater-goers will be looking up for all the wrong reasons.Officials yesterday determined that human error caused the lead stuntman to fall from a platform during Monday night’s preview presentation of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” Producers agreed to incorporate new “safety protocols," but officials declined to detail what they were. The Actors’ Equity said “performances will not resume until back-up safety measures are in place.” Today’s matinee was canceled because of the accident, but the evening show will go on, a spokesman said. “If it was safe I’d see it, but how are they going to make something like that safe,” asked Eliana Rodriguez, 23, of the Bronx. “I wouldn’t want an actor to fall on me.” The injured stuntman, Christopher Tierney, 31, an aerialist who doubles for Spider-Man, fell about seven minutes before the end of the show while diving to save the character’s girlfriend. Kristi Mitchell, 41, of Kansas City, was at the show, and she said the audience went into a “silent shock.” “Once we figured out it wasn’t part of the show, we got really quiet. It was very scary,” she said, adding that audience members were issued a refund for the show. Tierney’s injury was the troubled show’s fourth. Natalie Mendoza, who plays Arachne, suffered a concussion in December; stuntman Kevin Aubin broke his wrists in October; and an unidentified actor broke bones in his foot. Investigators have been scrutinizing the show since November, when the state’s Department of Labor asked OSHA to help examine the complicated set’s safety. The official opening night of the $65 million spectacle, now set for Feb. 7, has been repeatedly pushed back. And technical problems have riddled the previews. While no audience member has been injured, some worry about the risks. An injured audience member would have a solid legal case, said personal injury lawyer Eric Turkewitz. “If an audience member were hurt, any smart lawyer would sue everybody involved,” he said. “Assuming there were real injuries, every lawyer in New York would grab that case in a heartbeat.” Still, some audience members were willing to give the producers the benefit of the doubt. “Accidents happen,” said Leonardo Ramirez, 24, of the Bronx. “If they still have the show going on, it’s probably all right.” (With Emma Diab)
***“Spider-Man” has lots of troubled company in Broadway history.
A Teaspoon Every Four Hours (1969)
Jackie Mason invested $100,000 in this comedy to bring it to the stage. After 97 preview performances, it shuttered on its opening night.
Moose Murders (1983)
This mystery farce is famous among theater folk as the ultimate Broadway disaster. Opening and closing in one night, the play was excoriated by critics.
This adaptation of the Stephen King novel lasted a whopping 5 performances. It suffered from an incoherent story, bad acting and terrible special effects. A piece of scenery nearly decapitated actress Barbara Cook on opening night, causing her to leave the show.
This Paul Simon musical went through nearly 10 years of production before it made it to the stage. It went through three different directors and co-writer Derek Walcott eventually walked out.
Dance of the Vampires (2002)
This musical, adapted from an Austrian production inspired by a Roman Polanski film, was originally slated for the 1998 season. The production had trouble finding a director — they wanted Polanski, who was not allowed to enter the U.S. — and suffered through multiple rewrites. Actors clashed and the cast was out of control.