Entertainment

‘Safer’ Spider-Man Show Goes Off Without A Hitch

Thursday Night's Performance Free Of Stunting Mishaps
(Photo Credit: AP/Columbia Pictures)

(Photo Credit: AP/Columbia Pictures)

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NEW YORK (AP) – It was a smooth landing for Spider-Man.

A day after Broadway’s costliest show was forced to cancel two performances following a scary fall by a stunt actor, “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” resumed previews Thursday and came off without a hitch, including virtually all its complex aerial stunts.

“It’s a safer show now,” said a clearly relieved lead actor Reeve Carney, who plays Peter Parker and his alter ego, Spider-Man, as he signed autographs following the show. “It was always safe, but now it’s safer. It was beautiful to see everyone come together tonight.”

Also all smiles was producer Michael Cohl. “If you weren’t nervous tonight, you’d have to be an idiot,” he said after the show. “I feel great.”

Before the $65 million show could resume Thursday with its nearly 40 aerial stunts intact, producers had to give final confirmation to the state Department of Labor that they had enacted certain safety measures. Among them: a requirement that a second person ensure the harnesses used by performers have been put on properly.

The show’s director and co-writer, Julie Taymor, credited the show’s injured actor, Christopher Tierney, with inspiring the cast to rise above recent troubles.

“We all got together before the show tonight and talked about Chris,” she told The Associated Press after the show. “Chris gave us the spirit tonight.”

Tierney, doing a stunt as Spider-Man on Monday night, plunged from a ledge about 30 feet into a stage pit despite a safety harness that should have prevented the spill. Investigators are still looking into how it happened.

He underwent back surgery and was “walking today,” Taymor said happily. “He says he wants to come back to the show, soon-ish.”

Tierney was to be released from a hospital Friday or Saturday and complete his recovery at home in New Hampshire, said his brother Patrick Tierney, of Plaistow, N.H.

As the show opened Thursday evening at the Foxwoods Theatre in Manhattan’s Times Square, producers Cohl and Jerry Harris took the stage. They thanked the crowd for coming, said they had gotten the kinks out and promised the crowd they’d get their aerial stunts, prompting enthusiastic applause. They said that any mishaps would be explained to the audience by the stage manager.

But there were no mishaps, and Taymor said later that only one stunt, involving the Mary Jane Watson character in Act 1, hadn’t been performed.

The packed house cheered when Peter Parker was transformed into Spider-Man, the Marvel Comics superhero created by writer Stan Lee. People also clearly enjoyed the scenes in which Spidey flew out over the audience, especially when he fought his nemesis, the Green Goblin, in the skies above Manhattan.

“It was better than great,” said 7-year-old old Max Oechsner, of Delmar, N.Y., near Albany.

His father, Troy Oechsner, was a little more mixed, admiring the stunts but echoing complaints that some had about a confusing plot, especially in the second act.

“They could have made the story more clear and compelling,” he said.

Like him, Victoria Shaw-Locknar found herself less impressed than her two daughters, who had a great time. “I thought the plot was hard to follow, and the music was disappointing,” she said. “But my kids really liked it, and they’ve seen a lot of theater.”

At the end, the crowd gave the show a standing ovation, not uncommon on Broadway.

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 plagued by technical glitches, money woes and three other injuries besides Tierney’s, including a concussion and two broken wrists.

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.

Yet some observers have speculated that all the recent drama could actually give the show a boost _ assuming there are no more accidents. It was clear from the line at the box office Thursday afternoon that business was booming.

“We’re sold out until Jan. 2,” a ticket seller told a steady stream of buyers.

Mike Foux, of Allentown, Pa., had come to New York to see the show with his wife, Patti, and 20-year-old daughter, Jessie, for his birthday.

“I think this makes it more exciting,” he said of the recent troubles. “I was thinking, with four accidents happening, there must be some truly amazing stunts.”

“Of course,” his wife added quickly, “nobody wants to see anyone get hurt.”

New York restaurant manager Monika Schimek said the buzz was good for Broadway. “Anything that can bring people to a Broadway show is great,” she said, “as long as no one is killed or permanently maimed, of course.”

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)