In a run marred by controversy, the Spiderman musical on Broadway suffered another blow on Monday, when an actor fell 30 feet onto the stage during a performance.
The incident, which left actor Chris Tierney, with multiple broken ribs and substantial bleeding, occured when a cable snapped during a stunt.
Screams and shouts were heard from the audience after what is the fourth such injury to beset Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Authorities have temporarily shut down the show, which is based on the Marvel comic book hero and features music by U2 singer Bono, but many are calling for the cancellation to be a permanent one.
"The cause of the accident at last night's performance of Spiderman was, in fact, human error," Actors' Equity Association Maria Somma wrote in an email, without elaborating on the nature of the mistake.
The show's producers were allowed to reopen after intense negotiations with unions and promises to improve safety.
“(Federal investigators), Actors Equity and the New York State Department of Labor have met with the Spider-Man company today to discuss additional safety protocols,” the show's producers said in a statement. “It was agreed that these measures would be enacted immediately.”
The long-delayed show, which is Broadway's most expensive, has already had its offical opening date pushed back from October to February next year.
Tierney is the production's main stunt aerialist and performs stunts for the roles of Spider-Man, along with villains Meeks and Kraven.
He fell during a scene in which Spider-Man jumps off a platform in an effort to rescue his girlfriend Mary Jane Watson, The New York Post reported. The stuntman fell into an orchestra pit as the shocked crowd looked on.
"Chris Tierney, you are my hero," star Reeve Carney, who plays the titular superhero, wrote in a Twitter message Tuesday afternoon. "Your fearlessness, inspiring talent, and shining spirit are lights to us all. We love you so much man."
It is unclear whether Tierney was harnessed properly at the moment the cable snapped.
Charlie Bernard, who was in the audience, told local television station NY1 that the cable that was supposed to be attached to the actor looked like it was either not attached properly or was broken.
"You just hear a bang and then you hear the actress who plays Mary Jane, she was screaming and crying. The audience was a little disturbed and then everybody was quiet," he said.
Audience member Mike James said: "I'm pretty sure that wasn't supposed to happen - this guy topples off the stage ass over teakettle."
He said everyone sat in stunned silence as the empty harness swung over the seats in the first couple of rows. Then someone started screaming: "Call 911."
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