Grinch Will Not Reopen Prior to Thanksgiving; Producers Head to Court

News   Grinch Will Not Reopen Prior to Thanksgiving; Producers Head to Court Although there had been hope that Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! might reopen at Broadway's St. James Theatre prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, that will not be the case.

Patrick Page in the Broadway production of The Grinch.
Patrick Page in the Broadway production of The Grinch. Photo by Paul Kolnik

A statement from Jujamcyn Theaters, owner of the St. James, was released Nov. 19 at 3 PM that explains The Grinch will not reopen until the 27 other theatres darkened by the strike also resume business. The League announced Nov. 18 that Broadway shows in those 27 theatres will remain closed at least through Sunday, Nov. 25.

The Nov. 19 Jujamcyn statement reads, "The Local One Stagehands struck the St. James Theatre at 10:00 am the morning after the Opening of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical. The Grinch will not reopen until the union signs agreements and ends the strike at all theatres and all the other shows that have been closed by their strikes reopen on Broadway."

Earlier in the day on Nov. 19, Grinch general manager David Waggett told Playbill.com that picket lines had come down in front of the St. James Theatre, and Local One had agreed to work the show. However, the producers of Grinch still needed to gain approval from Jujamcyn Theaters. That approval has not been granted.

In response to the League's decision, producers of The Grinch are preparing to take their case to court. In a statement released at 5:30 PM Nov. 19, Grinch producer James Sanna said, "We appreciate that Local One has recognized our pre-existing agreement and has lifted the strike on The Grinch in spite of their differences with the League. We are going to court tomorrow to seek an injunction to require Jujamcyn to open the doors to families and children planning on coming to the theatre this week. We need someone who believes in the spirit of Christmas to enable the show to re-open for the holidays."

The reason Grinch might have been able to reopen is the production had negotiated its own contract with Local One prior to the strike because the musical offers 12 or so performances a week, different from the eight-performance schedule most other shows offer. 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 Aug. 30, and executed it a few weeks later, Grinch general manager Waggett recently told Playbill.com. Therefore, he said, "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.

The return Broadway engagement of Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! – The Musical, starring Patrick Page as the grumpy hermit whose heart is "two sizes too small," began previews at the St. James Nov. 1 and officially opened Nov. 9. On Nov. 10, the 11 AM performance of The Grinch was shuttered: the first casualty of the strike.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! — The Musical, according to press notes, is narrated by Max the Dog, who relates "the Grinch's fiendish plan to steal Christmas from the holiday-loving Whos. However, the Grinch soon discovers there's more to Christmas than he bargained for." The show includes the songs "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and "Welcome, Christmas," which are heard in the animated version of the Seuss classic, which is aired annually on television. Broadway composer Albert Hague (Plain and Fancy, Redhead) penned the music to the TV songs, which had lyrics by Seuss.

The limited run of The Grinch is scheduled to conclude Jan. 6, 2008.

The St. James Theatre is located in Manhattan at 246 West 44th Street. For more information visit www.grinchmusical.com.

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