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Labor union to stop performances of Spider-Man musical following injury [Updated]

by  in Comic News Comment

In the wake of last night’s accident that sent a stuntman to the hospital, Actors’ Equity Association has announced it will halt performances of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark until better safety measures are instituted.

“Actors’ Equity Association is working with management and the Department of Labor to ensure that performances will not resume until back-up safety measures are in place,” the labor union, which represents live theatrical performances, said this morning in a statement released to Broadway World. Update: Broadway.com now reports that “additional safety protocols” will be enacted immediately, resulting in the postponement of Wednesday’s matinee. However, Wednesday evening’s performance, and all subsequent ones, will proceed as scheduled.

As we reported earlier, aerialist Christopher Tierney, who doubles for Spider-Man and two villains, fell about 30 feet when the cable to his harness snapped during the closing minutes of Monday night’s performance. (The New York Times has amateur video of the mishap.) He was taken by ambulance to Bellevue Hospital, where he’s reported to be in stable condition. According to Showbiz 411, Tierney suffered broken ribs and is being monitored because he was bleeding after the fall.

Inspectors from the New York State Department of Labor are visiting the Foxwoods Theatre today to conduct their own investigation. “We’ll be talking to the production team, checking the harnesses, cables, and other equipment, and trying to determine what happened, and we’ll have more information after that,” a department spokesman told The Times.

Tierney is the fourth actor to be injured in the troubled $65-million production, the most expensive and most technically complex in Broadway history. Safety concerns first emerged in October, around the time dancer Kevin Aubin broke both wrists in an aerial stunt gone wrong. During the coverage of that incident it was discovered that another performer had broken a foot during rehearsals. Then came November’s problem-filled first preview, during which actress Natalie Mendoza suffered a concussion, resulting in a two-week absence from the show.

The Julie Taymor-directed musical, which features a score by Bono and the Edge, has been plagued with troubles that date back to at least back to August 2009, when cash-flow obstacles forced the production to shut down, seemingly beginning a domino effect that led to repeated delays, the loss of two stars and a ballooning budget. On Friday producers announced they would again move Spider-Man‘s opening, this time from Jan. 11 to Feb. 7. That’s nearly a year after it was originally set to debut.

Some fans and industry observers were referring to the production as “cursed,” even before this latest injury. But now Gawker’s Richard Lawson, who has seen Spider-Man in previews, declares it’s time to pull the plug on “a terrible and, evidently, dangerous show.”