Nonunion Reefer Madness Folds After a Brief Six-Week Run

Volume CI, No. 12December, 2001

In substantial numbers, New York audiences said “no!” to unionbusting, ending the brief six-week run of the off-Broadway show Reefer Madness at the Variety Arts Theatre. Critics also panned the Nederlander-produced show, whose abbreviated New York stay had been preceded by a run of over a year in Los Angeles.

When initially contacted by Local 802 about their plans for the show in New York, the producers of Reefer Madness refused to talk with the union. They then set out to do the show nonunion by screening out any suspected union members from being interviewed or hired for the show. Such actions are a violation of federal law.

Local 802 took its objections to the streets, leafleting the Variety Arts Theatre beginning with the show’s first performance. The community responded positively. Both residents and organizations in the Greenwich Village and East Village communities expressed support for the union and boycotted the show.

As Allegro went to press, the musical The Summer of ’42 was set to open in the Variety Arts Theatre under a Local 802 off-Broadway contract. The agreement provides The Summer of ’42 musicians with area-standard wages and benefits, conditions denied the musicians in Reefer Madness.