Spider-Man Musical Breaks Accident-Free Streak with New Actor Injury
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the big-budget Broadway musical based on the classic Marvel Comics superhero, has claimed the health of another performer. Matthew James Thomas, who plays Peter Parker/Spider-Man at Wednesday and Saturday matinees, was taken to the hospital this week with a head injury. It is the show’s first reported accident in 238 days, and since the critically mauled musical underwent an extensive reconfiguration that included the ousting of original director Julie Taymor. The new injury, which is being described as “minor,” comes just a few days after Taymor filed suit against the show’s producers to receive additional compensation and credit for her work.”[Thomas] is fine and will be back in the show for his next scheduled performance on Saturday,” said producers in a written statement. According to Newsday, the actor injured his head backstage and required stitches. Reeve Carney, the star of Turn Off the Dark during the rest of the week, happened to be on site and stepped in to finish Wednesday’s performance.
This latest incident brings the casualty count to six over the course of Turn Off the Dark’s lifetime, which began began all the way back in 2002, when it was announced that there would be a Spider-Man musical conceived and composed by Bono and The Edge of U2. Together with superstar Broadway director Taymor (The Lion King), they created the most expensive theatrical production in history. Turn Off the Dark employed state-of-the-art special effects and stunt work to bring the high-flying fantasy of Spider-Man to live audiences in New York City’s Foxwoods Theater. Unfortunately, delays and costs accrued as more cast and crew members were injured in accidents, complications and general incompetence with respect to the musical’s stunt apparatuses. The worst was the severe injury of Spider-Man stunt player Christopher Tierney, who took an approximately 30-foot fall into the orchestra pit simply because nobody connected his harness to anything. Tierney suffered four broken ribs, three fractured vertebrae, a fractured scapula, a fractured elbow, and a fracture to the back of his skull (thankfully, he recovered and eventually returned to work on the show).
Besides all the bad press about cast injuries, Turn Off the Dark was reviewed savagely in the press, including a piece here on ComicsAlliance. Producers eventually jettisoned Taymor and hired comics writer and playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to work with existing co-writer Glen Berger on reworking the musical into something less pretentious and operatic and something more family-friendly and closely resembling a Spider-Man comic book legend. Consequently, reviews have improved. Unfortunately for producers (and fortunately for ComicsAlliance’s crack Photoshop team), Taymor’s lawsuit and Thomas’ injury have come at the same time. Some people might say that Taymor actually curses the production in some supernatural way just by being near it. Not us, naturally. But some people.