A deal initially proposed by Broadway stagehands to help stem the tide of nearly $6 million in revenue losses since the September 11 attack has led to a 25% pay cut among the cast and crew of five musicals on the Great White Way. Citing what the unions termed “economic chaos,” the deal, first proposed by IATSE and later ratified by Actors’ Equity and Local 802, will last for the next four weeks beginning Monday, September 24.
The shows involved are Les Miserables, Chicago, The Full Monty, Phantom of the Opera, and Rent. According to IATSE, all five were in danger of shuttering unless "substantial economic relief" were made available. If sales do not improve in a month, the deal may be renegotiated.
"The recent attack devastated the country and our city, in particular," says IATSE president Thomas Short. "This joint effort is being done in the spirit of cooperation between New York locals, the IATSE and the League of American Theaters & Producers as a necessary step to preserve the jobs of our members and others.
"It is important for everyone to work together in this time of crisis," adds Short.
No Broadway plays were included in the deal because of the small casts and relatively low running costs, though there are reports that producers for such shows as Proof and Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, will also ask for concessions in the coming weeks if business does not improve.
Of the shows in question, all are long-running musicals except for The Full Monty, which opened last fall; Les Miz was hit the hardest, with a weekly gross of about $94,000, down $245,000 from its usual take. Neither Disney shows nor Dodger shows were involved in the deal, even though Beauty and the Beast, The Music Man, and 42nd Street are also struggling.
Jed Bernstein, head of the League of American Theatres and Producers, told The New York Post that he believes sales will improve in the coming weeks. "Every over time in the last 100 years when this country has faced a crisis or a depression or an assassination or some cataclysmic event, theatre and movies have been a refuge for people," he notes.