But “Spider-Man” _ whose costs beat the previous most expensive Broadway show, the $25 million “Shrek The Musical” _ has reached a dangerous level of attention: fodder for comics. Online, where parodies by “Saturday Night Live” and “Conan” poking fun of the musical’s early technical problems had recently been eagerly passed around, the tone shifted Tuesday from jokey schadenfreude to mild outrage.
An actor from TV’s “Modern Family,” Jesse Tyler Ferguson, wisecracked: “I’m torn between wanting to see `Spider-Man’ on Broadway and not wanting to see someone literally die doing musical theater.”
The production _ supervised by Juniper Street Productions, a management firm that has overseen such Broadway and Las Vegas productions as “The Producers” and “Promises, Promises” _ has been under investigation by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration since Nov. 2 at the request of the state Labor Department, according to OSHA.
“It’s certainly going to be continuing as a result of the latest incident,” OSHA spokesman John Chavez said.
Miramontez said OSHA, Actors’ Equity and New York State labor officials met with the “Spider-Man” company on Tuesday to discuss additional safety measures, and “it was agreed that these measures would be enacted immediately.”
Tierney is the show’s main aerialist and performs stunts for the roles of Spider-Man and the villains Meeks and Kraven. The castmate who spoke on condition of anonymity said the cable to Tierney’s harness snapped. But one special-effects expert raised the possibility that the rope was not hooked up securely.
Scott Fisher, president of Fisher Technical Services Inc. of in Las Vegas, which builds equipment for aerial stunts for the show, said the rope was supposed to be clipped to the stage at one end and the performer’s back at the other.
“The stage crew would have been responsible for making the connection for hooking him up,” Fisher said. “The actor is responsible for making the final check that he’s good to go. It’s sort of like packing your own parachute.”
He said the script called for the stuntman to lurch forward at the end of a ramp as if leaping to Mary Jane’s rescue. “He runs and stops and freezes in a position that you wouldn’t normally be able to hold unless you had a little support from behind him,” Fisher said. “If that’s not hooked up and he leans forward, he’s going to fall forward.”
Fisher said the rope was not part of his company’s onstage flight systems. But he said it was unlikely to have snapped: It is a 10,000-pound line.
After the actor fell, screaming could be heard coming from the pit.
“A voice yelled, `Someone call 911!’ Then there was a silence,” an audience member, fashion blogger Mariana Leung, wrote on the website NearSay.com. “A minute later, the stage was still dark. Then there was an announcement that the show would be delayed. A few minutes later, a second announcement that the performance would not continue. The lights came up.”
Just last week, the show’s lead producer, Michael Cohl, delayed the official opening for the second time, pushing it back from Jan. 11 to Feb. 7. He cited “some unforeseeable setbacks, most notably the injury of a principal cast member.”
The first preview on Nov. 28 did not go well. The musical had to be halted five times because of technical glitches, and actress Natalie Mendoza, who plays Spider-Man’s evil love interest Arachne, was hit in the head by a rope and suffered a concussion. She was sidelined for two weeks.