The 30-foot fall that left Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark actor Christopher Tierney with broken ribs and internal bleeding—and contributed to the musical’s growing reputation as a Rube Goldbergian deathtrap powered by hubris—has been attributed to “human error” following an investigation by state labor officials. In a statement to the Washington Post, a spokesman for the company that handles the equipment for the show’s stunts said it was likely that Tierney’s safety cable had simply not been hooked up properly, saying Tierney was “responsible for making the final check that he's good to go. It's sort of like packing your own parachute.” And starring in Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is, of course, sort of like plummeting to your death over and over again, to continue that analogy.
Anyway, notions of personal responsibility and accepting that you’re taking your own life in your hands every single time you perform in a musical haven’t prevented other Broadway actors from weighing in with their own opinions: Tony-winning actress Alice Ripley (Next To Normal) embarked on an all-caps Twitter rant yesterday, saying, “SPIDERMAN SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF ITSELF. THIIS [sic] IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE AND EMBARRASSING TO WORKING ACTORS EVERYWHERE.” She continued, “DOES SOMEONE HAVE TO DIE? WHERE IS THE LINE FOR THE DECISION MAKERS, I AM CURIOUS.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Rent star Adam Pascal on his Facebook page, where he added, “I have to weigh in on Spiderman. They should put Julie Taymor in Jail for assault! I know what its like to fall and get hurt in front of 2000 people. It's no fun, but at least it was the one time it happened. I hope whoever was hurt is ok and sues the shit out of Julie, Bono, Edge and every other asshole who invested in that steaming pile of actor crippling shit!" (He has since clarified, “I think some of you missed the intended humor in my post, although my anger is real, I don't think anyone should sue Bono and the Edge you dummy! Or put Julie Taymor in jail you double dummy. I was making a point.”)
Taymor has issued her own official response, saying, “An accident like this is obviously heartbreaking for our entire team and of course, to me personally. I am so thankful that Chris is going to be all right and is in great spirits. Nothing is more important than the safety of our Spider-man family and we’ll continue to do everything in our power to protect the cast and crew.”
Nothing, of course, besides the fact that the production necessitates that the show sell out virtually every show for the next several years to cover its costs—and to that end, Turn Off The Dark is scheduled to resume performances this evening. Who knows, maybe everything will be smooth sailing from here on out? Especially now that the actors know they should, seriously, really try to be careful? For real, you guys.
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