Christopher Tierney, the former Houston Ballet Academy student who fell from the ceiling during a preview of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, returned to the Broadway theater Friday night — 18 days after the accident occurred.
Wearing a back brace covered with Spider-Man stickers, Tierney watched the show from an orchestra seat after going backstage and telling his former co-stars to "break a leg" in the time-honored theater tradition.
Performing aerial acrobatics as Spider-Man in the $65 million musical's climatic scene, Tierney plunged 30 feet into the orchestra pit when his safety harness didn't hold. He fractured his skull and shoulder blade, breaking four ribs and fracturing three vertebrae. He was released from the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation in New York two days before attending the performance.
He has seven screws in his back, but hopes to return to the show as soon as possible. His rehabilitation is expected to take several months.
"It's what I've been waiting for for the past two weeks - to see my friends and finally watch the show," he told The Associated Press after the performance.
Tierney has won new fans for his positive spirit following the accident and his refusal to consider legal action, which in our litigious society seems unusually refreshing. He told the New York Times that the injuries were his first in 20 years of dancing and suggested that "all that karma couldn't last forever." He added that he believed in taking risks for his art and that the Spider-Man production was not unusually dangerous.
The musical officially opens on Feb. 7.