What’s Happening Beyond Broadway

Union Rep Notebook

Volume CVII, No. 2February, 2007

Mary Donovan

“Beyond Broadway.” What do I mean by using that phrase? Well, it seems to encapsulate better than anything else I’ve tried to use to describe the wide range of venues and contracts that Local 802’s Theatre Department works on besides the Broadway venues.

Negotiating and organizing theatrical contracts in 2006 kept our department quite busy. Most — if not all — of the agreements that were negotiated included improvements in wages and benefits. Negotiations took place with theatre companies, theatre owners, producers and general managers. Many of the negotiations were quite lengthy and difficult. The Off Broadway League of Theatre Owners and Producers continue to be difficult negotiators, so we can never take any of our gains for granted. However, although the negotiations are difficult, we almost always manage to get an agreement.

This unfortunately was not the case with an independent producer of a relatively new production, “A Jew Grows In Brooklyn.” This production started at the American Theatre of Actors (an Off Off Broadway venue) and later moved to the Lamb’s Theatre. We still have an unfair labor practice pending because the employer illegally influenced the outcome of the NLRB election. Two Local 802 members voted against union representation and two voted for. So the vote was a tie, but a tie means a loss under NLRB rules, and consequently we don’t have a contract.

Since then the show has moved to the prestigious 37ARTS and two of the four musicians in the show are members of Local 802. We will continue our efforts to bring this show under contract.

Another disappointment was the shortage of pre-Broadway Workshops. Only three agreements were negotiated: “Kristina,” “Legally Blonde” and “Wedding Singer.” That seems like a very small number in comparison to the large number of musicals that opened recently on Broadway. We need input from our members! If you hear of a workshop, talk to us!

Thankfully most of the news for 2006 was good. We negotiated 17 shows under our Commercial Area Standards (the “Pink Book”). Those standards are available for employers and members to view on Local 802’s Web site.

In addition, the Theatre Department negotiated six other commercial Off Broadway productions. There are still two Off Broadway negotiations begun in 2006 — “Forbidden Broadway SUV” and “Evil Dead” — that hopefully, will be finalized soon.

There were nine contracts negotiated with nonprofit theatre companies, including those reported in last month’s Allegro: the Public, Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage, New York Theatre Workshop, and the three nonprofit LORT companies — American Airlines, Studio 54 and the Biltmore.

Also renegotiated was “Encores! Great American Musicals In Concert.”

All of these contracts (except “Encores”) are available on our Web site.

We are continuing to build our coverage of the Association of Not-For-Profit Theatre Companies (ANTC). By adding two additional companies from that group this past year, we have doubled our coverage. We now have the Vineyard, Classic Stage, Atlantic Theatre Company and Primary Stages. The York at St. Peter’s Church and the Irish Repertory theatre were also negotiated in 2006 and enjoy similar terms as the ANTC theatres. There are eight not-for-profit theatre companies that are part of the ANTC consortium.

We have already hit the ground running in 2007 with two nonprofit productions: “The Coast of Utopia-Salvage” at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre (Lincoln Center) and a theatrical production of “Edward Scissorhands” at the Howard Gilman Opera House (Brooklyn Academy of Music). I anticipate that these negotiations will be completed very soon.

A new musical — “Xanadu” — is going into the Helen Hayes Theatre (a 597-seat house), and another new musical — “Bill W. and Dr. Bob” — will be going into New World Stages. It is anticipated that we will have agreements for both soon.

For more information on any of the information in this article, call the Theatre Department at (212) 245-4802.