Citing Troika Production's The Sound of Music as the single non-union presentation in the SFX "Broadway Series" this season, Actors Equity Association says it is organizing an informational picket against the show when it comes to Pittsburgh's Benedum Theatre on Nov. 21.
The non-union Troika show recently made headlines in association with its lead, former "Brady Brunch" star Barry Williams. Williams' controversial relationship with the show began when he replaced Corbin Bernsen as Captain Von Trapp. Bernsen dropped out of the show when he discovered that the production was non-Equity. After a back and forth struggle with Equity, Williams eventually elected for a diminished "financial core" status and was eventually cut loose from the union. Charges against Williams, which were dropped after he had reportedly left the show, have been reinstated and a hearing is scheduled for Oct. 20.
Also featured in the Sound of Music cast are Jessica Murphy, Amy Ross, Emily Herring, Gaelen Gilliland, Jennifer Avery, Fred Armstrong, Stefani Miller, Erin Braithwaite, Jason Slattery, Michaela Tomchow, Nicholas Druzbanski, AJ Luca, Caset McIntyre, Alexa Campbell, Warren Freeman, Sasha Wexler, Brittany Pixton, Joe Dodd, Tim Carroll, Leslie Forell, Richard Ercole, Amy Ross, Sasha Wexler, Don Adkins, Shawn Pennington, Melissa Calabrese, Chris Carfizzi, Sean McIntyre and Danielle Campbell.
An Equity spokesperson said the union has "a large membership base in Pittsburgh and an area liaison there as well." The Sound of Music will have played in Ft. Myers' Barbara Mann Theatre , Memphis' Orpheum Theatre, Jacksonville's Moran Theatre and New Orleans' Saenger Theatre prior to the Pittsburgh picket.
Equity cited a Pittsburgh Tribune Review article by Alice Carter that pointed to the fact that audiences are buying Sound of Music tickets as part of a Broadway Series and paying prices equivalent to those being charged for union shows. "The theatregoer is buying a quote Broadway package end quote," explained the Equity source, "but the show they're seeing, except for Barry Williams, features talent that has probably never been on Broadway before. We see this as a marketing and quality issue."
-- By Murdoch McBride