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The actor injuries that have plagued “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” have earned a spate of press attention. But bangs and bruises have always been a factor on the legit scene, especially for tech-heavy, innovative productions.
For one thing, Broadway tuners incorporate dance — and, not surprisingly, the physical exertions of dancers increase the potential they’ll get hurt.
Choreo-heavy musical “Fela!” was forced to cancel a performance last year when three dancers were unable to go on because each was nursing an injury. In spring, Karen Olivo broke her ankle during a performance of “West Side Story” and had to pull out.
Good old-fashioned stage combat also presents its share of risks.
Last season’s revival of “A View From the Bridge” was supposed to have co-starred Santino Fontana. But he was forced to withdraw when he got hurt in a fight scene during a preview perf. In fall, an actor in the Donmar Warehouse production of “Passion” was shot in the eye (necessitating he wear a patch for awhile) after a prop
The growing technical complexity and sophistication of Broadway musicals only increases the likelihood of injury. Take, for instance, two of the shows that ushered in the era of tech-heavy spectacle, “Cats” and “Miss Saigon”: Both garnered some press for the physical therapists the productions hired to treat cast members.
More recently, an actor in technologically complicated musical “The Little Mermaid” took a much-publicized tumble, falling at least 20 feet through a trapdoor in an elevated platform, in a 2008 accident just prior to a matinee.
So the concussion suffered by “Spider-Man” actress Natalie Mendoza, as well as the broken wrists and other injuries that have befallen other cast members, seem a bit like business as usual for Broadway — and for the two separate labor orgs, thesp union Actors Equity Assn. and the New York State Dept. of Labor, that keep an eye on performer safety.
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