Monday, November 19, 2007

Could The Grinch Reopen?

Could The Grinch Reopen?

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).

Playbill notes:

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.

"The Grinch is not playing and is not opening during the strike," said the spokeswoman, who requested anonymity.
Looks like The League is giving us nothing but a "bah humbug."

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).

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22 Comments:

At 19 November, 2007, Blogger jan@broadwayandme said...

Steve, I don't think there has been more attentive or more comprehensive coverage of the strike anywhere than there has been on your site over the past 10 days. I agree with Chris Caggiano that I've no idea when you find time to do your day job or even to get in some sleep at night. But, like all the theater lovers who read your blog, I'm grateful that you're keeping us so well informed.

 
At 19 November, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks Jan - I appreciate the kind words. As for my "day job," I've managed to be even more productive than I normally am (and that's saying a lot!).

 
At 19 November, 2007, Anonymous FiftyNinth said...

But why is Telecharge.com not selling THE GRINCH tickets for this week as of now?

 
At 19 November, 2007, Anonymous SpotOne said...

You Go Steve!
You have been fair.. and to the point!

 
At 19 November, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Fiftyninth, This is pretty tricky.

In contacting Telecharge, I've been told that they do not have anything official yet, and therein lies the rub. Even the Grinch Web site still has the official apology listed.

I'll keep you informed if and when this changes.

 
At 19 November, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jujamcyn Theatre's Are League Members
And Most likely are stalling

 
At 19 November, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve - from a VERY inside source - there will be a press conference held by the Producers of Grinch at 4pm at the Hilton Theatre. The Producers of Grinch are NOT members of The League and have said yes to opening the show along with Local one. However, Jujamcyn will not unlock the theatre. (Possibly illegal?) Jujamcyn along with all of the unions and the producers signed the Grinch contract which was negotiated totally separate and apart from the regular Broadway contracts. Local One has always had a contract at Grinch. They have never worked a day at the St. James without one. Why this musical went on strike in the first place is ONLY because it was in a Jujamcyn theatre. It has nothing to do with the contract they have. Unfortunately, the working slobs lose and Jujamcyn wins.

 
At 19 November, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 19 November, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks Anonymous. I'll be watching for further developments. Shame on Jujamcyn, the Grinch that stole the Grinch.

 
At 19 November, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Acording to MONEY TIMES,
One of the shows running currently could start playing again, apparently. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, currently running at the St. James Theater, would continue to run, according to one of the producers of the show, James Sanna. Sanna is not a member of the producers’ league. The league itself has said they had no information about Grinch reopening on Tuesday.

Sanna said the Grinch had a special arrangement with the stagehands’ union, which allowed it to play 12 performances per week. He said the special deal with the union meant Grinch did not come under the ambit of the strike and he expected the show to be back by Tuesday evening.

 
At 19 November, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Anonymous, Thanks for your comments, but if you read through my post, you'll see that it now appears the Jujamcyn Organization will not allow the production to move forward, essentially locking it out.

 
At 19 November, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes I see,Sorry.
Just wishful thinking.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/19/theater/19cnd-strike.html?hp But the Jujamcyn theater chain, which owns the St. James, said that its theaters would remain dark until a settlement was reached with the stagehands.

 
At 19 November, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“It’s a big disappointment,” said Paul Libin, a producing director and part owner of the Jujamcyn theater chain.

Mr Libin from the night before,when talks brokedown

 
At 19 November, 2007, Anonymous Deck One said...

VERY INTERESTING!

 
At 19 November, 2007, Anonymous Ruth said...

I’ve worked in theatre for almost 35 years. Mostly as a non-union, middle management, department head. Mostly working in theatres with IATSE contracts. One thing I know is that “Load-ins” are as much of an Art as a Science. It is not like a moving company bringing in your household furniture. Even in the most expertly managed load-ins, there are periods of inactivity for some in the midst of tremendous activity for others, and nobody wants to wait for the other crew to come on call. Least of all the Producers. The work goes in shifts that ebb and flow and overlap. At times one group waits for another to finish before moving forward. Safety is a critical issue at all times. Unless you’ve worked backstage you can’t imagine how dangerous it can be. It’s not just a matter of bodies on call either; the IA members, while having a knowledge of all departments, are specialized. It has been my experience that some producers have a limited respect for these men and women. At certain times, (like during contract negotiations), they prefer to see them as simple manual labor. I don’t believe the general public understands how complicated this work is. Or how much experience, knowledge and dedication it takes to be a stagehand. It is hard, challenging work. Local 1 has a great reputation across this country. I urge Theatre-goers not to be so quick to write them off as “greedy union members”.

 
At 20 November, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank u for the info. It's been the best collected info I've found. & I've been looking.. keep us posted, ok? You are much appreciated.

 
At 20 November, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Ruth, I sincerely appreciate the thoughtful insights you've shared. As I've said in other posts, I'm learning more than I ever dreamed about what it takes to be a stagehand. Thank you.

 
At 20 November, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Last Anonymous, Thanks for checking in here at Steve On Broadway. I'm glad you found me. It's looking like we may hear something more on Tuesday afternoon regarding Grinch.

 
At 20 November, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is everyone bad mouthing the League? As a performer, I know first hand that IATSE menbers have always been coddled- getting EVERYTHING they want, while it is the producers, musicians and actors that take the hit by making concessions in order to stay open. We are not in 1925- it takes a lot more money to produce a show and keep it open- I wish IATSE would stop being greedy and get back to work. They're playing with a lot of people's livelyhood.

 
At 20 November, 2007, Anonymous RocketRon said...

The stagehands union said yesterday it was willing to pull its pickets from the St. James because of the separate contract. However, Paul Libin -- one of the chief negotiators for the League of American Theaters and Producers -- said ``The Grinch'' won't reopen until the strike ends.

Jujamcyn is one of Broadway's three biggest landlords

 
At 20 November, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The league has a $20 million strike fund, but Sanna said he and his partners were not receiving any money from it. He said his losses so far were significant, though he did not specify them.

 
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