Local One Stage Union Will Protest at Spiegelworld Empire Tent in Midtown

By Kenneth Jones
May 21, 2012

Members of Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) will voice their concern about a new midtown circus-cabaret show's lack of union tech employees on May 22. A demonstration will take place starting at 11 AM at 265 W. 45th Street, at Eighth Avenue, the site of Spiegelworld's new tent show, Empire.



IATSE said the demonstration will last all day and night, coinciding with the Tuesday first preview of the show. This is "to protest the use of non-union lighting and audio technicians on the non-union tent show," according to the union.

"Local One IATSE can't stand by while a non-union entertainment operation pitches its tent, even temporarily, in the heart of the Broadway theatre district, the working home of thousands of entertainment professionals," James J. Claffey, president of the 3,100-member stage local. "Though the number of Local One IATSE jobs we're talking about are no more than a handful of jobs, we will exercise all our legal rights to ensure these employees have union rights and protections."

Spiegelworld's Empire is a hybrid entertainment show of music, cabaret, circus and more.

Local One IATSE represents stage and studio electricians, set carpenters, audio technicians, moving-light operators, riggers and special effects people in Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester and Rockland.

Playbill has sought a statement from the producers of Empire.

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Spiegelworld, the producer of tent-housed theatrical events that draw on circus, cabaret, variety and burlesque traditions, returns to New York City on May 22 for a 15-week run of a new show called Empire, in the Broadway theatre district.

The Spiegelworld tent sits on a vacant lot at 265 W. 45th Street. Shows continue to Sept. 2. Opening night is May 31.

Ross Mollison, Spiegelworld producer, said in a statement, "We've scoured the planet to find the most awe-inspiring acts ever performed, and assembled them together on one stage, creating the greatest show New York has ever known. New Yorkers are the most demanding audiences in the world, and so we have had no choice but to deliver a show that represents the very height of the art."

Empire headliners include Moondog, Carrot Man, Polka Dot Woman, Rubbish Bag Lady, Lime Green Lady and many more.

Spiegelworld shows first came to life in New York City in summer 2006, when it launched an annual summer season on Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport neighborhood. Spiegelworld has produced Absinthe, La Vie, Late Night Lounge and Desir under its tent. The company has also toured to Miami's South Beach and Melbourne, Australia.

A 440-seat Belgian spiegeltent is the venue of the Empire experience. According to production notes, "Popular across Europe during the early 20th century, the luxurious traveling spiegeltents were used as dance halls and music/cabaret venues, featuring intimate in-the-round seating, ornate wooden paneling, mirrors, stained-glass windows, and velvet-upholstered seating booths."

Spiegelworld offers "a carnival-style bar facility and a speakeasy VIP lounge."

The creative team of Empire includes Wayne Harrison (director), John O'Connell (choreographer), Jamie Siegel (music producer), Angus Strathie (Academy Award-winning costume designer), Josh Zangen (production designer), Matthew Hodges (art director), Martin Kinnane (lighting designer) and Matt Kraus (sound designer). Empire is presented in New York by Related Companies and Boston Properties.

Tickets are priced at $59 and $89, and are available at www.telecharge.com or by calling (212) 239-6200. A special VIP Ticket is available for $129 and includes a complimentary glass of champagne.

The performance schedule is as follows: Monday at 7:30 PM, Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 PM and 9:30 PM and Sunday at 7:30 PM.

Visit spiegelworld.com.