A spokesperson for the union would not elaborate on the nature of the alleged coercion and discrimination, involving the now-closed show The Rat Pack Is Back!, but said, "we believe that there were situations and incidents that can be described as coercion" against Equity members.
Directed, produced and co-written by David Cassidy, The Rat Pack is Back!, a big-band concept concert with actors playing Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Frank Sinatra, played eight performances starting Nov. 17, 2005, and was to officially open Dec. 12. Some of the cast members were members of Equity.
"Due to unforeseen and irreconcilable circumstances on both artistic and managerial levels, RPIB, Inc. has closed The Rat Pack Is Back!," according to a Dec. 12 statement. RPIB, Inc. is David Cassidy's company.
The Supper Club then booked a similarly-flavored non-union show, Frank, Sammy & Dean, which has now also closed.
Martin Thesing, owner of The Supper Club, made this statement in response to the union action: "The Supper Club is a completely non-union house and therefore never had any contracts whatsoever with any of the actors in The Rat Pack Is Back! Any and all questions regarding any employment issues during the time that The Rat Pack Is Back! performed at The Supper Club should be directed to the officers of RPIB, Inc., the show's producing entity." The reasons for The Supper Club's break with RPIB, Inc. are between those two parties, according to Equity, which is targeting The Supper Club.
Maria Somma, a spokesperson for Equity, told Playbill.com, an Equity site inspection of The Supper Club had been conducted prior the the start of The Rat Pack Is Back! and that the Supper Club knew that it had booked a union show.
"It was clear to us that The Supper Club is liable under the National Labor Relations Act," Somma said.
Is this Equity's chance to get a foothold in The Supper Club? Somma said there have been Equity contracts there before.
In general, the union is not interested in shows of a nightclub or concert nature, but when works of a narrative and dramatic nature are involved, and actors are involved, Equity is interested in protecting union members and potential union members.
The size of The Supper Club and its location in the midtown theatre district also make Equity sit up and take notice.
The Rat Pack Is Back! starred Julian Rebolledo (as Dean), Eric Jordan Young (as Sammy), Michael Civisca (as Frank) and Mark Cohen (as Joey), with a special appearance by Cassidy as Bobby Darin. The title has played elsewhere (including Las Vegas), and this production of it ran two weeks in fall 2005 at Mohegan Sun casino and resort in Connecticut. The Equity fees for the Mohegan venue run were paid retroactively, Somma said.
According to the Jan. 3 union statement, "The ULP was prompted by discrimination, and coercive tactics, against actors who are represented by Equity when the Supper Club refused to allow a theatrical production entitled The Rat Pack Is Back! to continue performances because members of the cast were represented by the Union. In addition, The Supper Club replaced the production with a similar non-union production entitled Frank, Dean & Sammy, Live in Concert."
It could be several months before the NLRB formally hears and considers the case.
The Supper Club, the nightclub venue earlier known as the Edison Theatre, is at 240 W. 47th Street.