Great Comet Billing Dispute May Be Headed for Resolution

News   Great Comet Billing Dispute May Be Headed for Resolution Broadway producers offer a deal that gives the Off-Broadway company the billing it seeks.
<i>Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812</i> at American Repertory Theater
Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 at American Repertory Theater Evgenia Eliseev

Broadway producers of the musical Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 have made an offer to settle a contract dispute with Ars Nova, the Off-Broadway company that developed the show and hosted its first production.

The New York Times reported that producers Howard and Janet Kagan and Paula Marie Black issued a joint statement that they would agree to describe Ars Nova as it wished in the show’s Playbill if the nonprofit would drop legal claims it filed in New York State Supreme Court October 28 against Howard Kagan.

As previously reported on Playbill.com, Ars Nova asserts that Howard Kagan and the other producers are contractually required to bill the show as “The Ars Nova production of . . .,” but billing materials omitted the words “production of” and simply listed Ars Nova last among 38 other above-the-title producers in the Playbill.

Ars Nova said in a letter to the theatre community last week that the difference is important: “That narrative – that the show people are seeing on Broadway is, at its core, the show that started at Ars Nova, is extremely valuable to Ars Nova’s past, present and future, and is communicated to the tens of thousands of people seeing The Great Comet on Broadway each week only through our title page billing.”

Renee Blinkwolt, the managing director of Ars Nova, told the Times that the Ars Nova board of directors is scheduled to meet today, November 1, to consider the offer.

Kagan and the Broadway producers released the following statement Nov. 1:

“The producers of The Great Comet regret that a dispute regarding the billing of Ars Nova has occurred. In an effort to reflect The Great Comet’s unique, five-year path to Broadway, we sought to create title page billing that would give due credit to all of the amazing artists and partners who joined along the way and have helped to make the show what it is today. While we believe Ars Nova is making a good faith argument based on the 2011-2012 contracts among Ars, Dave Malloy and Maxolev, we believe they have not taken into account all the contracts and events that followed and how they impacted these initial contracts. Since the first performance on Broadway, we have provided Ars Nova with a standalone credit line directly above the title —not as part of the block of commercial producers—as well as a footnote reading: Originally Commissioned, Developed, and World Premiere Produced by Ars Nova, Jason Eagan, Founding Artistic Director.

We sincerely want to end this disagreement so that the incredible artistry at the core of this production can, once again, be our primary focus. To that end, the producers have reached out to Ars Nova to propose to change the above-the-title billing to the words that Ars Nova has asked for (‘the Ars Nova Production of’), provided that Ars Nova agrees to end the dispute. We hope that this will bring this matter to a conclusion.”

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