Concessions take effect Monday, offer 'economic relief'

Below-the-line Broadway workers, citing the “economic chaos” following last week’s terrorist attacks, have accepted a 25% pay cut for four weeks to keep a quintet of shows open.

“Les Miserables,” “Chicago,” “The Full Monty,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Rent” received the concessions from locals of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, to take effect Monday. The union said the shows were threatened with closing unless “substantial economic relief” could be found.

The pact covers stagehands and employees handling box office, scenery, wardrobe, makeup, props and publicity. The move came as six other Broadway shows posted closing notices for Sunday (Daily Variety, Sept. 18).

“The recent attack devastated the country and our city, in particular,” said IATSE prexy Thomas Short. “This joint effort is being done in the spirit of cooperation between New York locals, the IATSE and the League of American Theaters & Producers as a necessary step to preserve the jobs of our members and others.

“It is important for everyone to work together in this time of crisis,” Short added.

The accord on concessions came out of several emergency confabs between union reps and various members of the League of American Theaters & Producers.

At a league-union meeting Monday, producer Alan Wasser reportedly proposed an across-the-board reduction in wages of 30% from the minimum, to be recovered should a show go above its break-even figures. Wasser heads Cameron Mackintosh’s office in New York; both Mackintosh shows, “Phantom” and “Les Miz,” received concessions. A waiver of the one-week closing-notice period also was discussed at the meeting.

With the exception of “The Full Monty,” which opened less than a year ago, all the shows receiving concessions are long-running musicals. In effect, the union’s concessions support juggernaut shows that provide employment to its members over years rather than months.

Of the shows covered, “Les Miz” took in the least last week ($94,515) and “Phantom” made the most ($185,489). Disney shows were not included in the concession agreement, even though one of its productions, “Beauty and the Beast,” grossed only $147,766 last week. Disney is not a member of the league.

IATSE New York Locals 1, 751, 764, 798, the Assn. of Theatrical Press Agents & Managers 18032 and United Scenic Artists 829 are covered by the agreement.

No announcement about concessions has yet come from other legit unions, including Actors’ Equity, the Dramatists Guild of America, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians and the Society of Stage Directors & Choreographers.

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