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Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark - Broadway

'Spider-Man' to resume previews following serious cast injury, more delays

By Allison Reitz

UPDATE – Wednesday, December 22, 5:49 p.m. (EST):
Tonight's performance of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" has been cancelled. The announcement came shortly after 5 p.m. — just a few hours before the show's scheduled 8 p.m. curtain.

According to the New York Times, the late-breaking cancellation was meant to give more time for cast and crew to implement new safety measures for the production. A stunt actor was seriously injured earlier this week when he fell more than 20 feet due to an improperly secured safety harness.

The show will resume audience previews Thursday, December 23.

ORIGINAL REPORT:
Performances of the much-delayed musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" will resume tonight, December 22, days after a stunt actor was seriously injured during a preview performance of the show.

The actor in question, reported to be Christopher Tierney, was doing an aerial stunt near the end of the December 20 show when he fell more than 20 feet into a stage pit. The show was brought to a halt and the injured actor was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he remained in serious condition late on December 21, according to the New York Post.

Tierney is the fourth actor to be injured while working on "Spider-Man," which has since been investigated by state and federal inspectors and must implement additional safety measures before it can reopen, the New York Times reported yesterday.

"Spider-Man" did not have a performance scheduled Tuesday, and producers postponed a Wednesday afternoon matinee to allow more time to make the necessary changes. Tonight's 8 p.m. preview is still scheduled to go on as planned.

Only last week "Spider-Man" postponed its opening night by a month to account for production revisions and delays resulting from the earlier injury of another actor. The $65 million-production's press opening is now slated for February 7, 2011, instead of its originally scheduled January 11 start.

In a December 17 statement announcing the scheduling delay, lead producer Michael Cohl had said, "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 injury Cohl referred to was that of actress Natalie Mendoza, the third actor injured on the set of "Spider-Man." Mendoza suffered a concussion as the result of an off-stage accident during "Spider-Man's" first preview on November 28. She left the show December 2 to recover and only recently resumed the role of Arachne on December 15, according to the Wall Street Journal's report.

Even putting the abundance of injuries aside, the musical's launch into the public has been a rocky one.

Although press reviews are historically embargoed until opening night, the critical response was more immediate for "Spider-Man." The show's initial preview performance was well-publicized for its technical glitches and lengthy delays, and even drew jeers from some impatient audience members.

Prior to Tierney's tragic injury at the start of the week, the creative team hoped to make the most of "Spider-Man's" delayed opening by making sweeping changes to the production.

"This is a continuing process. We're previewing, which takes away from our time to iron out wrinkles and put other things in," Cohl said an interview with Rolling Stone prior to Monday's accident. He added that director and co-writer Julie Taymor had new ideas to incorporate into the production, and that U2's Bono and The Edge, the tuner's chief composers and lyricists, would also be called on to make alterations.

Of course, glaring plot holes and technical issues only came to light in public previews after months of delays, caused first by financial uncertainty, and then by the departure of planned cast members Evan Rachel Wood and Alan Cumming. Only in August were producers willing to announce new dates for previews and opening night, even though those dates were eventually pushed back a couple weeks.

"Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" is playing at Foxwoods Theatre (formerly the Hilton Theatre), located at 213 West 42nd Street in New York, NY. Ticket prices range from $67.50 up to $135 on weekdays, or up to $140 on the weekends. An updated schedule and ticketing information can be found on the production's official Web site.

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