Spider-Man hangs by a thread after fourth injury sparks safety shake-up

John Carucci

The curtain will go up again today on Bono and The Edge's accident-prone Broadway Spider-Man musical after the producers agreed to new safety precautions to prevent another fall.

There have been four accidents since the show began previews last month, the latest coming on Monday night, when Christopher W Tierney, a stunt double playing Spider-Man, plunged into a stage pit despite a safety harness that should have prevented the spill.

Tierney was taken to hospital and was expected to need back surgery, his brother Patrick said.

The US state Department of Labor said it was satisfied the producers of the $65m (e49.5m) musical had made the necessary adjustments.

Last night's performance was cancelled so that the cast and crew could rehearse the new precautions, which include a requirement that a second person ensures the harnesses used by performers during the show's high-flying stunts have been put on properly.

The much-anticipated production, teaming Lion King creator Julie Taymor with songwriters Bono and The Edge of U2, has had a rocky route to Broadway.

Already the most expensive show in Broadway history, it has been plagued by technical glitches, money woes and three other injuries, including a concussion and two broken wrists.

The show has been in previews for a month, and its official opening has twice been postponed. It is now set for early February.

"At this point we are satisfied they have put in place the appropriate controls," said Maureen Cox, director of safety and health for the state Department of Labor.

State officials had no authority to close the show but could have disallowed the heart-stopping stunts that make it special. The musical has 38 separate moves in which actors are put in harnesses to go up in the air. Cox said the investigation was continuing into what went wrong in Tierney's accident and who is to blame.

Broadway actor Adam Pascal slammed the accident-plagued musical, saying its director should be charged with assault.

The star of Rent later said he was joking when he made the comment about Julie Taymor, but insisted the show shouldn't continue until safety issues are addressed.

Pascal and co-star Heather Headley fell 15ft after a lift failed during a production of Aida.

Pascal said he wanted to clarify he's not calling for the arrest of Taymor or anybody else. He said when he fell in Aida the gag was cut from the show and he never felt unsafe again. He said he was stressing that safety on Spider-Man is important.