Scrooge Musical Under Contract

Volume CIII, No. 2February, 2003

Summer Smith

Musicians touring with the New York Stage Originals’ production of Scrooge: The Musical got more than they were expecting from their seasonal gig.

The show is an original creation of composer and producer Philip Stern. For several holiday seasons, Stern has mounted the show in the company’s New York hometown, Tarrytown, and last year the show toured the East Coast.

In December, Scrooge was scheduled to tour the West Coast before being staged in Tarrytown and Wilkes-Barre, Penn. A modified version of the show was scheduled to play alongside movie clips at two Lincoln Center productions. 802 was alerted to the tour and contacted the musicians, who cooperated with the organizing effort.

AFM Touring Director Mike Manley called Stern to discuss negotiating a contract with benefits. At first, Stern seemed willing to sign an agreement but then refused to move from his original position of paying each musician what he had offered them, less a sum for their pensions.

Assistant to the President Bill Dennison and Senior Organizer Summer Smith arrived at the production’s second rehearsal an hour before the start time to secure a signed agreement from Stern. Through an intermediary Stern communicated his refusal to speak to the 802 reps and said he would not come to the rehearsal.

With the exception of the pianist, who was not a union member, all the musicians agreed to withhold services. Their unanimous action finally prompted Stern to speak with Dennison and sign an AFM agreement.

Musicians voted to approve the agreement, and the rehearsal continued with the full orchestra.

Scrooge toured with 10 musicians with a bass player added on the West Coast. The tour took the musicians out of town for 10 days; the remainder of the performances were scheduled in the area.

The contract calls for a base wage of $1,500 and doubling fees of $200 for 16 performances and four rehearsals in 2 ½ weeks, along with a guarantee that anyone who had been promised a higher wage will continue to earn it.

Individual services in New York and Pennsylvania pay $90 for regular shows, $65 for abridged shows and $50 for rehearsals. Pension is 8 percent on scale wages. Per diem payments for meals and load in/load out fees are required by the contract, and all musicians have identity with the product.