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Spider-Man actor walking again after back surgery

- Associated Press - Saturday, December 25, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - The stunt actor who fell 30 feet while playing Spider-Man on Broadway is walking again, and his father said Saturday that he can't wait to return to the role despite injuries that have him confined to the intensive care unit.

Christopher Tierney walked Friday for the first time since his fall during Monday's performance of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" and is spending Christmas with his mother and brother in the hospital while recovering from back surgery, Tim Tierney told The Associated Press.

Julie Taymor, the director and co-writer of the $65 million production, visited the injured actor in the hospital on Christmas Eve, Tierney said. The show _ the most expensive ever on Broadway _ has been plagued by technical glitches, money woes and three other injuries, including a concussion and two broken wrists.

"They're eagerly awaiting his return," the actor's father said from his home in Portsmouth, N.H. "He just felt so blessed to be part of this whole creative process, and he just cannot wait to get back and perform in the show."

Tim Tierney said he believes his son will regain close to full mobility after recovering from a roster of injuries that included a hairline skull fracture, four broken ribs, a bruised lung, internal bleeding and cracks in three lumbar vertebrae.

Christopher Tierney will remain in the intensive care unit until at least Monday, then stay in New York City for rehabilitation.

As for when a return to the show might be possible, Tim Tierney said he was more positive than his son's doctors, who did not give a specific time frame for recovery.

"Doctors _ they're always pessimistic," he said, adding that the pins and rods his son now has in his lower back will come out after he heals.

The actor's plunge from a ledge into a stage pit, despite a safety harness that should have prevented the spill, was not caused by equipment failure, Tim Tierney said, without elaborating. State Department of Labor officials have said the cause is still under investigation, and the Actors' Equity Association union has said the fall was caused by human error.

The much-anticipated production, teaming "Lion King" creator Taymor with U2 songwriters Bono and The Edge, has had a bumpy ride to Broadway. It has been in previews for a month, and its official Broadway opening has twice been postponed. It is now set for early February.

"Spider-Man" had to cancel two preview performances after the actor's fall, then reopened Thursday with the blessing of the State Department of Labor after instituting what agency spokesman Leo Rosales has called a new set of "very strict safety and security measures."

The production had a scheduled night off Friday but is set to return to the stage Christmas night.

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