Broadway Musicals and the Strike: Your Questions Answered

News   Broadway Musicals and the Strike: Your Questions Answered
Following are answers to some of the most common questions regarding the ongoing Broadway union strike. This information was last updated 11 AM March 10.

How long will Broadway musicals be dark due to the strike?
It's not known at this time. For now, the League of American Theatres and Producers officially canceled performances March 7, 8 and 9 for shows affected by the strike. But because negotiations ceased March 7, there have been no talks and thus, no way to forecast when the Broadway musicals may relight again.

Are all Broadway musicals dark?
All but Cabaret at Studio 54. The show operates under a different contract with the musicians' union.

What about Broadway plays?
Non-musical Broadway plays are up and running and are expected to do better than usual business when the musicals are not operating.

Are Off-Broadway musicals dark?
No, the contract issues concern Local 802 and the Broadway producers, most of whom are connected to the League of American Theatres and Producers.

I have tickets to a Broadway musical, but it's dark due to the strike. Are refunds and exchanges being offered, and where?
Producers recommend you go to the point of purchase to inquire about refunds or exchanges. The musicians are on strike, but why aren't the shows going on with recorded music?
Many of the producers did put a computerized music system toegether in recent weeks, and casts had been rehearsing with the so-called virtual orchestras. However, the leadership of the stagehands' union and the actors' union opted to honor the strike and not cross the picket line, preventing producers from putting on a show.

What do the musicians want?
They want producers to continue guaranteeing that a minimum number of musicians will be employed in each musical based on the size of the theatre. Doing away with these minimums, they say, will mean producers can shrink orchestra sizes and/or use synthesized music to make up for it. There are other contract issues, but this is the major sticking point.

What do the producers want?
Producers say the union should not be dictating the artistic needs of a musical, and that minimums create the possibility that musicians who are not needed or used will be paid, which inflates the running costs of the show. The producers first wanted minimums eliminated, then offered to agree to a minimum orchestra of 15 for Broadway's biggest houses. The current minimum at major houses is 24.

Are the producers obligated to employ the minimum number dictated by the union, even if the show is small and doesn't require a major orchestral sound?
There is a "special situations" clause in the contract which allows producers, on a show-by-show basis, to negotiate the minimum for any particular show based on the artistic needs of that show. Mamma Mia, Urban Cowboy and others have orchestras with fewer players than the minimum, and no one extra gets paid for doing nothing. This provision has, in essence, eliminated the "walkers" (musicians paid to do nothing) that occasionally existed before 1993, the union says.

Is the TKTS discount ticket booth still operating during the strike?
Yes, the popular booths at 47th Street and Broadway and at South Street Seaport are open and offering discounted same-day tickets to Broadway plays and Off-Broadway plays and musicals, and other events.

Does this affect touring shows that are coming to a city outside New York?
No, national tours of plays and musicals are not impacted by the Broadway strike.

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