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Safety Issues Retake Center Stage at Broadway’s ‘Spider-Man’

Performance halted when an actor's leg was pinned underneath backstage machinery

After a long stretch without any high-profile actor injuries, “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” is grappling once again with issues of actor safety in a high-tech stage production: A performance of the Broadway musical was halted and then cancelled Aug. 15 when a performer was hurt during the course of the show.

Actor Daniel Curry sustained the injury when his leg was pinned underneath backstage machinery, according to reports from the Fire Department of New York. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital in serious condition.

“Following last night’s accident at ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark,’ Daniel Curry remains in the hospital in stable condition having sustained an injury to his foot,” said Rick Miramontez, a spokesman for the production. “Tonight’s performance will go on as scheduled. The technical elements of the show are all in good working order, and we can confirm that equipment malfunction was not a factor in the incident. Our thoughts are with Daniel and his family.”

In ruling out a tech malfunction, the statement suggests human error was likely the cause of the injury. That was also the case in the high-profile 2010 incident that saw actor Christopher Tierney fall from a raised platform into the orchestra pit, attributed to an improperly fastened harness.

Tierney’s injury, from which the actor fully recovered before eventually returning to the show, was one of a string of publicity-grabbing injuries that plagued cast members of the musical during its famously long, troubled preview period. Since the show’s opening in June 2011, however, no major injuries have occurred.

However, the latest incident reps the second time in recent weeks when safety concerns have played a part in halting the production, which cancelled a recent show before it started due to malfunctions in the automation systems that control the production’s complex set and special effects.

The injury also come soon after the death of a performer in Cirque du Soleil’s Vegas show “Ka,” another stage production that, like “Spider-Man,” is filled with huge, technically complicated sets and high-flying acrobatics.

Actors’ Equity Association, the union that reps Broadway actors and stage managers, has launched an investigation into the “Spider-Man” incident, which is standard procedure when such injuries occur in Main Stem productions.

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