BY PATRICK HEALY APRIL 25, 2011 2:26 PM
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Christopher Tierney, who fell 30 feet off a platform while performing in December in Broadway’s “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” flashed a wide smile and displayed not a hint of nervousness as he met with the media on Monday outside the stage door of the theater where “Spider-Man” is playing. It was his first day back in the show.
Declaring himself to be “85, 90 percent” recovered from the accident — which resulted in four broken ribs, three fractured vertebrae, a hairline fracture in his skull, and other injuries — Mr. Tierney said he had been itching for some time to perform again as Spider-Man in several of the flying sequences over and around the audience.
“I can’t wait — I’m ready to put on the harness right now and fly around,” Mr. Tierney said at a news conference organized by the “Spider-Man” producers, who have viewed the actor’s swift physical comeback and unconditional support for the musical as one of its abiding good-news stories. About 20 reporters, photographers and cameramen came out for Mr. Tierney.
“I’m still training, but I’m pretty there — I wouldn’t be here right now if there was a problem,” said Mr. Tierney, who effusively praised the show’s trainer, Dr. Edythe Heus of Revolution in Motion, for designing a strength conditioning and recovery plan for him during his winter of rehabilitation.
One reporter asked if Mr. Tierney, after his December injuries, was “nuts” to rejoin the show.
“Yes, slightly,” he replied. “Anybody who knows me longer than 10 minutes…,” he added, before trailing off. He blamed the accident on “oversights, or undersights,” and expressed confidence that he and his fellow cast members were perfectly safe.
The Dec. 20 accident took place late in the show when Mr. Tierney, in his Spider-Man costume and mask, was atop a raised platform and running in slow motion toward its edge. In an interview in January, Mr. Tierney said that he had checked to make sure that a safety tether was properly attached to his harness, but he did not check that the other end of the tether was attached to the stage. He executed his stunt, but as he reached the edge of the platform, the tether did not catch him as he began leaning over its lip. He ended up falling — head first, initially — into a basement beneath the stage.
An additional set of safety protocols were put in place for the musical’s flying and acrobatic sequences after the accident.
Mr. Tierney and the producers intend for him to return to all of his old roles, some of the most physically challenging in the show. “Spider-Man” is now on a hiatus to rehearse revisions; it begins a new round of preview performances on May 12 and has a scheduled opening of June 14.
He is, however, returning to a production that now lacks Julie Taymor, the show’s ousted director, who had hired Mr. Tierney for her film “Across the Universe” and then for “Spider-Man.”
Mr. Tierney said he checked in with Ms. Taymor by phone the other day, and praised her as “an absolute genius” and also “a beautiful, loyal friend.”
“She was just excited that I was coming back” to the musical, Mr. Tierney said. “She wanted to make sure that I was feeling O.K., and just chat. She’s got her plate full.”