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Just as the long-troubled musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark appeared back on track, an accident has raised concerns about the safety of the big-budget Broadway production.
The New York Post reports that last week dancer Kevin Aubin, one of several performers who doubles as Spider-Man, broke both of his wrists when he was catapulted through the air to the lip of the stage, where he landed with bone-snapping force. The New York Times notes that on his Facebook page, now set to private, Aubin wrote: “well i dont know what im allowed to say. but something went wrong and i fell on my hands from a high distance. It happens, no one to blame. I’m alive and ok.”
Producer Michael Cohl issued a statement saying, “With a show as complex as this, safety is the top priority for everyone at Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.”
Showbiz411’s Roger Friedman voiced reservations more than two weeks ago about the safety of the complicated aerial extravaganza: “Apparently the actors will be flying over the audience’s heads and all over the theater. This isn’t Peter Pan with a little onstage aerial. And the people who are flying are not from Cirque du Soleil or trained acrobats. ‘They’re muscular actors who got flying training and are into it,’ says a source.”
The Post’s Michael Reidel quotes an anonymous source as saying, “They are not just flying people around — they’re catapulting them! It’s like they’re being shot out of rubber bands. I have no idea if the show is any good, but the special effects are unbelievable. There are going to be Spider-Men flying all over the theater — right over your head — during the show.”
The Julie Taymor-directed Spider-Man, whose budget has ballooned from about $50 million to between $60 million and $65 million (depending on which source you believe), will be the most expensive, and most complicated, show in Broadway history. According to The Times, the production has created “an elaborate, computerized aerial system of synthetic plastic cables” to send performers flying over the heads of audience members in the orchestra and toward those on other levels — all without nets.
Aubin was injured during a presentation for ticket agents, Reidel reports, where Taymor said she would encourage children to stand in their seats so they can better see the aerial acrobatics. But he goes on to quote an anonymous producer as saying, “That is madness. You can’t have kids standing on their seats, especially when you’ve got people flying over their heads.”
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which features a score by Bono and the Edge, stars Reeve Carney, Jennifer Damiano and Patrick Page. Previews beginning Nov. 14 for a planned Dec. 21 opening.