Musicians Ready to Rally Against Use of "Virtual Orchestra" Machine Off-Broadway | Playbill

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News Musicians Ready to Rally Against Use of "Virtual Orchestra" Machine Off-Broadway Members of Local 802, musicians and others are ready to protest the Off-Broadway musical staging of The Joys of Sex, set to begin performances April 13.

"The producers of this show are attempting to introduce this machine into an Off-Broadway live performance venue and we're determined to not allow that to happen," American Federation of Musicians Local 802 president David Lennon previously told Playbill On-Line.

"It's no different from our fight on Broadway last year." The fight to which he refers is the musicians' strike which crippled Broadway musicals last season when Broadway producers and the union could not come to an agreement. Actors' Equity and Local One of the stagehands' union among other stage guilds joined in the strike which left Broadway with no musicals for four days.

Producers of the new musical approached Local 802 with their plans to use a piano, bass and drums — as used in the Fringe run — with the addition of the Sinfonia machine — which has become commonly known as the "virtual orchestra."

"They are attempting to turn this machine into just another musical instrument or just another synthesizer and that is nothing more than a ploy to gain its introduction and ultimate acceptance into the live performance arena," Lennon asserted. "The virtual orchestra added to [the show's original three musicians] is a way of getting around hiring the musicians needed to accommodate such a large theatre."

Broadway shows fall under a "master agreement" with the union whereas Off Broadway shows are left to negotiate on a case-by-case basis. Lennon, however, pointed out that almost every Off-Broadway musical is under union contract. According to a press release, a statement will be given at 5:30 PM on April 13.


Jeremy Dobrish (The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)) directs the work, which will open May 12. Ron Bohmer (The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Thing About Men) and Jenelle Lynn Randall (They Wrote That?) join original Fringe cast members David Josefsberg (Les Misérables, Grease!) and Stephanie Kurtzuba (The Boy From Oz).

Ben Sprecher and William P. Miller produce the musical featuring lyrics by Melissa Levis, music by David Weinstein and book by Levis and Weinstein.

Not to be confused with the bestselling, similarly-titled 1974 book, the musical The Joys of Sex — which does not contain "nudity or crass language" — features four characters who sing about threesomes, one-night stands, cybersex and orgasms.

The design team for The Joys of Sex will feature Neil Patel (set), David C. Woolard (costume), Donald Holder (lighting) and T. Richard Fitzgerald (sound). Lisa Shriver handles choreography.

The Joys of Sex performs at the Variety Arts Theatre, located at 110 Third Avenue (at 14th Street).

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