A strike vote planned for Mar. 14 by the Broadway musicians union was called off at midday when the musicians reached a tentative agreement with producers on a new contract.
A ratification vote will be held sometime in the next week and a half.
The agreement eliminates the threat of a musicians strike that could have shut down most Broadway musicals, or forced them to use recorded music.
Judy West of the musicians union Local 802 said the agreement calls for a 21 percent wage increase over five years, maintenance of all current benefits, no change in pension or orchestra sizes.
In particular, the union had insisted on systems to protect musicians from stage smoke. West said the League of American Theater Owners and Producers had "very positively addressed" the issue. At Beauty and the Beast, for example, the producers agree to install a device that creates an "air curtain" over the pit so smoke rolling off the stage will not go into the orchestra pit, but instead will be vented away, West said.-- By Robert Viagas