Curtain up! Theatergoers see ‘Spider-Man’ return

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The cast and crew of the musical spent Wednesday and Thursday rehearsing the new safety precautions.

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

The fourth accident came Monday night, when Christopher W. Tierney, a stunt double playing Spider-Man, plunged about 30 feet into a stage pit, despite a safety harness that should have prevented the spill.

James J. Claffey, Jr., president of Local One IATSE, the stage employees union, said Thursday in a statement that his group “is confident in the additional safety protocols.”

“‘Spider-Man’ is the most challenging musical production in the history of Broadway,” he said. “For all the advanced technical equipment used in today’s Broadway shows, the shows are still performed and run by human beings. The human element cannot be taken out of live theater, and the Broadway theater is a strictly choreographed system of actors, stage managers, technicians and machines.”

Maureen Cox, director of safety and health for the Department of Labor, said the investigation into Tierney’s accident is continuing. Investigators said they are looking into whether it was caused by equipment failure or human error.

“We’re also making sure that the actors and the stagehands know that if everything is not right, they can say, `We’re not going to go,’” Cox said.

Tierney’s brother Patrick, who came down from New Hampshire to see Tierney through back surgery, said his brother would be released from a hospital Friday or Saturday and would complete his recovery at home in New Hampshire. He said his brother is in “as good spirits as he can be,” is expected to make a full recovery and will surely return to the stage.

“He’s a dancer. He landed on his feet. If he didn’t land on his feet, he wouldn’t be with us,” said Patrick Tierney, of Plaistow, N.H. “He has a strong body and an amazing attitude.”

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Associated Press writer Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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