Playbill and the Broadway revival of Cabaret have resolved a dispute over how programs will be distributed at the Kit Kat Klub theatre.
Cabaret will continue to distribute programs at the end of the show, rather than at the beginning, as is traditional. But the show will use On Stage, a special publication of Playbill Inc., rather than the standard Playbills.
Here is the back story:
On Mar. 6, Playbill withdrew its familiar programs from Broadway's new Kit Kat Klub theatre, charging the current production there, Cabaret, had violated an agreement to distribute the programs in the usual way, before the performance.
Currently in previews for a March 19 opening, Cabaret had begun distributing the Playbill programs as patrons were leaving the theatre. Director Sam Mendes had the entire former Henry Miller's Theatre on West 43rd Street redesigned and renamed to recreate the atmosphere of a 1930s era Berlin cabaret. The theatre switched to printed paper single-sheets with the names of cast and crew as of the Thursday evening performance, Mar. 5.
Playbill President and Publisher Philip S. Birsh said the decision to withdraw the Playbill programs came because, "Our readers and advertisers desire and need the information in the program. The cast and crew deserve to have their recognition not demoted to a brief glimpse on the audience's way home. What's more, they have desecrated our service and went back on their word and we are a company of people who honor our agreements".
Production spokesman Adrian Bryan-Brown said, "The artistic and creative team and the cast wish to have the ambience of a prewar Berlin cabaret in the theater. They wish to not have people with Playbills at the top of the show. They feel it's more in keeping with the spirit of the environmental staging. They wish everyone be handed one as they leave the building, and that's it."
Birsh protested the post-show distribution of the programs Mar. 3, at which time the producers, Roundabout Theatre Company, agreed to distribute the programs normally, before the show. The policy was rescinded Mar. 4 without notifying Playbill.
Birsh also is publisher of Playbill On-Line.
Founded in 1884, Playbill Inc. serves every Broadway theatre but Disney's New Amsterdam. The new Ford Center for the Performing Arts uses Showbill, another special publication of Playbill Inc.