What's Ailing Spider-Man the Musical?

After fourth accident, show may not go on until safety measures taken.

December 21, 2010, 11:26 AM

Dec. 21, 2010— -- The woes continue for troubled Broadway musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," which was beset by its fourth accident.

An actor performing an aerial stunt during Monday night's preview plunged 20 to 30 feet and was taken to Bellevue Hospital with minor injuries, fire department officials told WABC-TV.

Now the labor union representing the cast has asked that the show not go on until more safety measures are in place.

In a statement to ABCNews.com, Actor's Equity, the union representing the actors, said, "Actors' Equity Association is working with management of Spider-Man and the Department of Labor to ensure that performances will not resume until back-up safety measures are in place."

On Monday night, the show's spokesman Rick Miramontez released a statement saying a 31-year-old actor fell "several feet from a platform approximately 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 added.

Officials did not release the actor's name, but a performer in the show identified him as Christopher Tierney. Tierney is the show's main aerialist and performs stunts for the roles of Spider-Man and the villains Meeks and Kraven.

An audience member told WABC that a cable connected to his harness appeared to have snapped.

"Spider-Man was about to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge to go catch Mary Jane," the audience member said. "She was falling in slow motion. He was supposed to swoop down and catch her. Instead his safety cord or cable seemed to have broke, and he went flying into the audience and he crashed down into a hole in the set."

The accident occured about 10:45 p.m., toward the end of the performance, and producers immediately halted the show and firefighters were called to Broadway's Foxwoods Theatre.

Monday's fall was the latest in a series of setbacks for the $65 million show -- the most expensive in Broadway history -- which teams Bono and The Edge from U2 with famed stage and film director Julie Taymor.

Producers had recently pushed back the show's opening night from Jan. 11 to Feb. 7 and it's unclear if the next performance, scheduled for Wednesday, will go on.

Before Monday's incident, Taymor, the Tony Award-winning director of "The Lion King" and the Oscar-nominated "Frieda," told entertainment blogger Roger Friedman that the delayed opening was a good thing.

"We're happy about it," she is quoted as saying in a story posted on Showbiz411.com. She told Friedman that the extra time would give the show's organizers extra breathing room to make more changes.

"This isn't an adaptation of a movie, like most musicals these days," Taymor said. "This is all totally original, from scratch."

Spider-Man Stumbles Again

In a statement last Friday, the show's lead producer Michael Cohl explained, "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."

Cohl was referring to actress Natalie Mendoza, who plays Spider-Man's evil love interest Arachne. She was sidelined by a concussion for two weeks after being injured during the show's first preview.

On Monday, she posted a Twitter message asking people to pray for her fellow actor Tierney. "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," read the Twitter post.

Here's a recap of the musical's mishaps leading up to Monday's accident.

Natalie Mendoza

During the first preview on Nov. 28, the musical had to be halted five times because of technical glitches. Then Mendoza, while standing offstage, was struck in the head by a rope holding a piece of equipment and suffered a concussion.

Against her doctor's advice, Mendoza returned to the show three days later to perform, but then she was out for the next two weeks.

Kevin Aubin

In October, before previews started, Kevin Aubin, a dancer and one of several performers who doubles as Spider-Man in the show, broke both his wrists while demonstrating a flying stunt for a small audience of ticket brokers and group sales agents.

Aubin was being catapulted into the air -- as if from a sling-shot -- when he slammed into the stage.

Posting a picture of himself with casts up to his elbows, he wrote on Facebook, "Well i dont know what im allowed to say. but something went wrong and i fell on my hands from a high distance. It happens, no one to blame. I'm alive and ok."

After Aubin was injured, a second actor came forward saying he had injured his feet doing the same stunt a month earlier.

Speaking anonymously to The New York Times, he wrote in an e-mail: "I had broken my feet on the same move a month earlier. Kevin is doing fine though and took it like a champ."

The actor said the accidents resulted from a "flying glitch."

A spokesman for the "Spider-Man" musical told the Times the actor had broken a toe.