A couple of questions touching on the various professionals found within the union Actors' Equity Association. Best known for representing performers, Equity also includes stage managers in its membership.
Ask Playbill.com answers your (and sometimes our own) theatre-related questions. To ask a question, email AskPlaybill@Playbill.com. Please specify how you would like your name displayed and please include the city in which you live.
Question: What are the weekly salaries of Broadway actors, ranging from stars, such as Nathan Lane and Kristin Chenoweth, to those who are making their Broadway debuts? — Gladys Sommers, East Brunswick, NJ.
Salaries of above-the-title stars like Lane and Chenoweth vary greatly and are usually kept under wraps by both the performers and their producers. However, star paydays often find their way into the pages of publications like the New York Post and Variety. Lane and his co-star in The Producers, Matthew Broderick, are known to have set a kind of record during their run in the smash musical for pulling down more than $100,000 a week. More recently, the Post reported that the base salary of Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig in A Steady Rain was $40,000 week, on top of which they received a hefty percentage of the box office, netting them more than $100,000 a week. The same daily said Julia Roberts fetched $150,000 a week while in Three Days of Rain. Will Ferrell and Billy Crystal also did famously well during their only Broadway appearances. Producers are willing to pay these steep prices as stars have become one of the only sure ways of attracting an audience during the ongoing recession.
As for the rank-and-file of the union, Equity spokesperson Maria Somma said, "It is Actors' Equity Association policy to keep confidential our members' information, including their earnings. However, Actors' Equity Association negotiates a minimum weekly salary (currently at $1,605). This is the minimum for any Actor — whether the person is making his or her debut, working in the chorus or is the leading Actor. An Actor (or the actor's agent) can negotiate higher than the weekly minimum, but never accept a salary less than the negotiated minimum."