2ND UPDATE: A spokesman for the musical said that preview performances will resume tomorrow night. “Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Actors Equity and the New York State Department of Labor have met with the Spider-Man company today to discuss additional safety protocols. It was agreed that these measures would be enacted immediately. Tomorrow’s matinee has been postponed and will be rescheduled. Tomorrow evening’s, and all subsequent performances will proceed as scheduled.” Inspectors cited “human error” as the explanation for the latest mishap.
UPDATE: New York Post columnist Michael Riedel has now confirmed that Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was shut down today following the fourth injury suffered during preview performances. Actors Equity confirmed that State Department of Labor investigators are once again scrutinizing whether the show can be performed safely.
EARLIER: Another preview of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark ended last night with yet another cast member injured. This time, an actor fell into the orchestra pit, and the performance was halted just short of completion. That makes four performers injured during the early preview performances of a musical directed by Julie Taymor with music and lyrics by U2’s Bono and The Edge. Accidents on action-laden feature films sometimes happen–an extra was left disabled and disfigured in an accident on the set of Transformers 3 earlier this year–but how long before Spidey’s creatives think about toning down the sophisticated acrobatics and onstage stunts before somebody gets really hurt? People don’t go to the theater to see the visual effects extravaganza that will be evident in the 3D Spider-Man movie that Sony Pictures Entertainment just put into production. There is plenty of conflict and appeal in the Peter Parker story. Taymor’s achievement in turning The Lion King into a visual extravaganza is a hard act to follow, but maybe this is too ambitious and the priority should be in making the book as good as it can be, because an original score by two rock geniuses has got to be great. Leave the cutting-edge stunts and visual effects to Hollywood, which only has to get a tough scene on film once. It’s just too much to expect performers to execute on a nightly basis, unless it’s Cirque du Soleil. It will also be extremely difficult to transfer this musical to other cities and countries, if the expert technicians who work on Broadway are having this much trouble. This $65 million show, whose opening was postponed from January 11 to February 7 so these bugs can be worked out, will live or die based on the tunes, the narrative arc and the performances.