Broadway stagehands will strike beginning Saturday morning at 11 a.m.
Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.) will take action against The League of American Theatres and Producers after having gone without a contract since July 31. Renewed talks this week stalled yesterday after being characterized as highly contentious.
According to the Associated Press, "A person close to contract negotiations says that stagehands will go on strike tomorrow, a move expected to darken most of the plays and musicals on Broadway." Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which only opened earlier this evening, will be the first show struck given its 11 am curtain call.
Very few Broadway theatres would remain open during a lockout or a strike. They are:
- American Airlines Theatre, home to the current run of Pygmalion
- Biltmore Theatre, home to the current run of Mauritius
- Circle In The Square Theatre, home to the current run of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
- Helen Hayes Theatre, home to the current run of Xanadu is also excluded.
- Hilton Theatre, home to the current run of Young Frankenstein
- New Amsterdam Theatre, home to the current run of Mary Poppins
- Studio 54, home to the current run of The Ritz
- Vivian Beaumont Theatre (Lincoln Center), home to the current run of Cymbeline
Now that the strike is confirmed, let me offer my point of view.
I've allowed the stagehands to have pretty free reign here to talk about their beef with The League. I've also taken issue with The League for threatening a lockout and gone so far as to encourage readers to write directly to The League expressing their dismay as audience members that they might be shutout when ultimately, it's the audience who keeps Broadway in business. So no one can accuse me of being unfair to the stagehands.
But now that it's come to this, I'm frankly ticked off at some of the undue language many on the stagehands side have used to disparage those who come up with the investment dollars to put on a Broadway show. Most shows lose money. It's the rare exception that makes money. The fact that the producers are willing to take a substantial risk on a show only to be told how many people they must hire to load-in a show regardless of the actual number necessary makes it very unfair for stagehands to complain about their respective lots in life.
Here's the rub for me as an audience member. I work hard, very hard and choose to spend my free time and money taking in live theatre on Broadway and elsewhere. Even though I may not always like what I do in my professional life, the fact is it's my choice. Nobody is holding a gun to my head and saying "You must do this." The same goes for the producers and the same applies to stagehands. You've selected this career and if you don't like it or the conditions or the pay or the return on your dollar, then perhaps it's time to move on.
Now I only hope that Mayor Michael Bloomberg will see fit to keep the bright lights shining on the Great White Way. Not since 2003 has there been a strike on Broadway -- thanks to his intervention, it lasted a mere four days.
Let's hope for the sake of all the men and women, not only in the audience, but especially those innocent bystanders who work in the theatre district that this ends quickly. Otherwise, those of us in the audience will take our patronage elsewhere and may just stay there.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
A Broadway Stagehands Strike Appears Imminent (November 9, 2007)
Roll Up Your Sleeves And Get To Work! (November 7, 2007)
Now That The Union Has Spoken... (October 22, 2007)
It's Unanimous! (October 20, 2007)
D-Day Indeed (October 21, 2007)
$5 Million Per Day (October 19, 2007)
Nederlanders: On Their Own Again? (October 18, 2007)
The Broadway Theatres Not Impacted By Labor Dispute (October 17, 2007)
Bloomberg Appears Ready To Step Into Fray (October 16, 2007)
If You're Holding Tix For Broadway This Week, You're Safe (October 15, 2007)
Stagehands To Vote On Strike...October 21 (October 12, 2007)
The Shows Must Go On...At Least Over Weekend (October 12, 2007)
Still No Lockout (October 12, 2007)
No Lockout Tonight (October 11, 2007)
Lockout Likely (October 10, 2007)
Is This The One For One? (October 9, 2007)
tagehands' Union Concedes Key Point (October 5, 2007)
Stagehands Talks To Continue This Afternoon (October 5, 2007)
No Monday Lockout (September 29, 2007)
Before The Holidays Strike? (September 25, 2007)
Thanks, Mel! (July 6, 2007)