Thanks to its high frequency of scheduled performances that hit as early as 11 a.m., the very first casualty of the Broadway stagehands strike was Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the St. James Theatre when the labor action began a week ago Saturday. It certainly made for a lot of headlines as disappointed children were showcased in an endless parade of news stories.
But according to Playbill.com, the production might possibly be able to reopen as early as tomorrow because the production had negotiated its own contract with Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.). Since only the theatre is technically covered by The League of American Theatres and Producers contract, there's new hope that a meeting currently underway might enable the show to go on, even as all other shows that have been closed by the strike will remain so through this Sunday under a League edict (click here for the complete list of shows as well as ticket refund procedures).
While the League's contract with the stagehands expired in July, Grinch began negotiating its own contract with the stagehands in the spring, came to an agreement August 30, and executed it a few weeks later, Grinch general manager David Waggett recently told Playbill.com. Therefore, he says, "Our point of view is that our contract is, in fact, still in effect," but the stagehands still decided to include the show in its strike.
New York Post's Michael Riedel has suggested that if The Grinch doesn't reopen soon, it could shutter permanently:
Already the producers of The Grinch are screaming. They lost $500,000 over the weekend. And since they're checking out of the St. James in January anyway, there's no point in reopening if the strike lasts past Thanksgiving.
Will a miracle happen? Given that I have tickets to see this very production at 11 a.m. on Wednesday morning, you can bet I'll keep you posted on any late breaking developments here.
UPDATE 12:30 p.m. EST: Hat Tip to The Gothamist for reporting that:
[A] producer of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! announced that show would go on starting tomorrow thanks to a “special arrangement” with Local One.As of this moment, there is no official announcement on The Grinch Web site, which still carries an apology for being closed.
UPDATE 12:39 p.m. EST: Campbell Robertson is reporting in The New York Times that:
The union has ordered that the picket line come down for Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! which is playing at the St. James Theater, said James Sanna, one of the show’s producers.
Grinch, which runs on an unusual 12-performances-a-week schedule, had negotiated a special arrangement with Local 1 last year, said Mr. Sanna, who argued that arrangement put it outside the current negotiations. Mr. Sanna, who is not a member of the league, said he expected the show to be up and running for the Tuesday evening performance.
Certainly, The League will not dare play the role of the Grinch on this one, will they?
UPDATE 1:56 p.m.: Apparently the answer to that last question is "Yes, they will." According to Newsday's Robert Kahn:
But a spokeswoman for the League of American Theaters and Producers, which represents Broadway theater owners, said the show would remain closed.Looks like The League is giving us nothing but a "bah humbug."
"The Grinch is not playing and is not opening during the strike," said the spokeswoman, who requested anonymity.
UPDATE 2:26 p.m.: All but confirming that The Grinch will not reopen is The New York Times' Campbell Robertson and Anahad O'Connor in a story that just posted:
[T]he Jujamcyn theater chain, which owns the St. James, said that its theaters would remain dark until a settlement was reached with the stagehands.Thanks Jujamcyn. When this strike is over, audience members will be wise to remember who was naughty and who was nice.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).