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'Spider-Man' musical to open with new safety measures

By the CNN Wire Staff
Actress Paige Price, from left, and state legislators Richard Gottfried, Eric Adams and Rory Lancman speak about theatre safety.
Actress Paige Price, from left, and state legislators Richard Gottfried, Eric Adams and Rory Lancman speak about theatre safety.
  • NEW: The show announced that it would go ahead with its 8 p.m. Thursday performance
  • Lawmakers and safety advocates called for better theater oversight after hospitalization of actor
  • Christopher Tierney, 31, fell at least 20 feet and is listed in serious condition

New York (CNN) -- State lawmakers and safety advocates met with crew and cast members of the troubled Broadway musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," which will resume its performances Thursday night.

The meeting addressed the need for better theater oversight following the hospitalization of an actor who fell during a recent performance.

"This is a workplace and they are entitled to a safe workplace," said New York Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who chairs a state subcommittee on workplace safety. "Clearly there were shortcomings."

Despite the security concerns, the show announced that it would go ahead with its 8 p.m. Thursday performance at the Foxwoods Theatre in Manhattan, according to company spokesman Rick Miramontez.

Lancman said earlier that the show could proceed if it met advisory recommendations.

The company canceled its Wednesday matinee and evening performances to review the new safety measures recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the New York State Department of Labor, said Miramontez.

Lancman said those concerns include providing sufficient rehearsal for understudies performing aerial or tethered sequences. All performers involved in aerial work must also attend seminars or those sequences may be removed from the show, according to a written statement.

There must be sufficient crew and stage management to run the show safely, Lancman said. Also, the tether attached to the Spider-Man double will be shortened so the actor is not as close to the end of the platform.

Company officials met Tuesday with representatives of the two agencies as well as the union representing the show's actors, the Actors Equity Association.

It agreed to retain an independent expert to oversee show maneuvers and safety procedures, Lancman said, noting there have been changes to the show's final sequence known as "the net" or "the web."

He would not elaborate on the changes.

"When you push the envelope in terms of maneuvers and special effects... you also push the envelope in terms of safety," he said. "We're here to ensure that before this show goes back on, this is a safe work place."

State Sen. Eric Adams told reporters Thursday that he is introducing a bill that would create a task force charged with examining safety regulations in New York theaters.

"The show must go on," Adams said. "We are not here to impede Broadway and the important revenue that comes from Broadway." But legislators have an obligation "to ensure the safety of those who are in the theatre."

During Monday night's performance, 31-year-old Christopher Tierney fell at least 20 feet and was hospitalized.

He remains in serious condition at Bellevue Hospital.

The fall that injured him was caused by human error, the Actors Equity Association said Wednesday. The union did not give details of the error, but it said it was working with the OSHA and the state Department of Labor to develop safety plans to address the issue.

Fellow Broadway actor Adam Pascal made headlines soon after the incident, calling for the prosecution of the show's director, Julie Taymor, because of a series of recent mishaps, including Tierney's injury.

"They should put Julie Taymor in jail for assault!" Pascal posted on the internet site Facebook.

He called for lawsuits against Taymor and others invested in the production, such as musical stars Bono and David Howell Evans.

Pascal later recanted the comments, saying, "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."

Pascal's representative, Rich Aronstein from RJ Productions, confirmed the posts were authentic.

The show, with music and lyrics by rock group U2's Bono and Evans, who is also know as The Edge, has been beset by cast injuries and technical problems. Show spokesman Sam Corbett said the production has cost approximately $60 million, making it the most expensive in Broadway history.

Taymor said the accident was "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," Taymor said in a statement Tuesday. "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."