SFX CD-ROM Provides Showcase for 802 Talent

Local 802 Live Music Campaign

Volume C, No. 12December, 2000

David Lennon

This summer Local 802 embarked on a project to produce a video that would not only be part of a promotional CD-ROM produced by SFX Theatrical Group, but would also provide the union with a wealth of footage showcasing our members’ vital role in the experience of live musical theatre.

The idea for the project began when SFX invited Local 802 to participate in developing an interactive CD-ROM promoting live musical theatre, to be sent to more than 100,000 theatregoers on their national subscriber list. SFX proposed to use B-roll footage of over 40 Broadway shows, past and present, to create a “living brochure” that would expose Broadway Series subscribers to theatre in New York City and on tour across North America. The project’s mission statement expressed a willingness and desire to “familiarize the consumer with how important union involvement is in the theatre industry.”

Actors’ Equity Association had already granted permission for such footage to be used, provided that the CD-ROM included information about their union and about Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, with links to relevant web sites.

In addition to those elements Local 802 proposed that, in exchange for waiving payment for the use of the B-roll footage, 802 would be permitted to produce its own five-minute footage featuring the versatility, dedication and talent our members bring to live musical theatre. SFX agreed, and the union embarked on the project enthusiastically.

Everyone at Local 802 who was involved in the project realized its value for our ongoing efforts to educate the public about the importance of live music. Our goal was to have the finest representatives in the industry bring this message to the public. Realizing this goal within a six-week time frame required the teamwork, creativity and ingenuity of Local 802’s Theatre Department, Executive Board and Broadway Theatre Committee.

The Theatre Committee appointed a subcommittee made up of Brian Brake, Marc Goldberg, Charley Gordon, Steve Mack and Clay Ruede. They worked with project managers Bill Dennison and David Lennon, under the supervision of Recording Vice-President Erwin Price, to handle the numerous and often complicated details involved in the production.

Under the leadership of producer Geoff Martz, a former 802 member and accomplished film producer, the production team created a format that featured segments showcasing the composer, the orchestrator, the conductor and, most importantly, the musicians. This was the most comprehensive of three possible formats initially proposed, and the Executive Board enthusiastically approved it.

The following individuals appeared in our video segments and gave generously of their talents and time:

  • Tony Award-winning actress Bernadette Peters made an impassioned statement about the importance of live music in the theatre;
  • Nathan Lane, John McDaniel, Eliot Lawrence, Local 1 IATSE and the American Theatre Wing allowed the use of a Tony Awards 2000 clip featuring the role of the orchestrator;
  • Paul Gemignani not only voiced admiration and respect for the musicians he conducts but, along with Maria DiDia and Sam Ellis of the BOB Company, allowed us to film the orchestra in this year’s Broadway on Broadway rehearsal. Harriet Slaughter of the League of American Theatres and Producers, Inc., helped make the logistics happen;
  • 802 President Bill Moriarity and the musicians who appeared in a series of interviews – Kamau Adilifu, Brian Brake, Larry DiBello, Charley Gordon, Ray Marchica, Lee Ann Newland, Gretchen Pusch, Clay Ruede and Belinda Whitney – made invaluable contributions;
  • Composer Stephen Sondheim invited us into his home for an interview.

This collaboration created a video that honors the irreplaceable role that our members bring, through their skills, artistry and human spirit, to the live musical theatre experience. The video expresses this in many ways, including the words of Bernadette Peters – “Live musicians, they’re what make me live to sing” – and Stephen Sondheim – “if it’s not all live, then it doesn’t have life, or part of the life is gone.”