Off-Broadway Musical and Musicians Union Reach Agreement on "Virtual Orchestra"

News   Off-Broadway Musical and Musicians Union Reach Agreement on "Virtual Orchestra"
Local 802 of American Federation of Musicians and the producers of the Off-Broadway show The Joys of Sex: A Naughty New Musical have reached an agreement on the use of the "virtual orchestra" machine.

The union was ready to rally at the first preview of the show, starting April 13 at Off Broadway's Variety Arts. At 5:30 PM, there was an announcement of the agreement calling off the protest and rally. The deal struck will allow use of the machine for this production but future stagings (for the next ten years) at the Variety Arts Theatre will need approval from the union.

Producers of the new musical approached Local 802 with their plans to use a piano, bass and drums — as used in the 2002 Fringe run of the show — with the addition of the Sinfonia machine. The union expressed strong opposition.

The machine is the same technology — known to many as the "virtual orchestra" — that was at the center of the labor dispute last year between the AFM and Broadway producers which resulted in the musicians' strike.

The composer and producer argued that the addition of the synthesizer would not replace musicians, but enhance the sound of the score. The union asserted that the move was a ploy to introduce the machine into a live venue.

* Jeremy Dobrish (The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)) returns to direct 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.

Tickets to The Joys of Sex at the Variety Arts Theatre, 110 Third Avenue (at 14th Street), will be available March 21 by calling (212) 239-6200. The Variety Arts Theatre box office opens March 22.

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