The Radio City Christmas Spectacular went on without its orchestra Thursday, playing its first two shows with taped music while striking musicians gathered at the Radio City Music Hall stage door.
Although the Rockettes and the stagehands walked out on dress rehearsals in solidarity with the musicians, both dancers and crew showed up for the Spectacular’s first day of performances. The Rockettes have a no-strike clause in their contract.
Contract negotiations between musicians’ union Local 802 and Radio City Entertainment, which is owned by Cablevision, have been rocky for weeks. At issue are the arrangements for overtime pay for the orchestra, which plays about 225 shows over 10 weeks, as well as agreements on salary and benefits.
Instead of picketing, musicians stood outside the music hall’s stage door, dressed in formal wear and carting their instruments. “We’re here to work, whether there’s a contract or not,” said Dan Culpepper, a French horn player.
But Radio City would not let the musicians in the building. “We have told the musicians in no uncertain terms that until there is an agreement and there is no possibility of them walking out on future performances, they remain on strike and cannot return to the Music Hall,” the org said in a statement.
Audiences for Wednesday’sdress rehearsal went away disappointed, but patrons for the two Thursday performances packed Radio City despite the recorded music.
“I don’t feel too great about it — like we need a rebate,” said Gloria Stone from Flemington, N.J., as she followed the crowds filing into the music hall.
Stone came to the 3 p.m. show with her husband and three children. “But we had the tickets. The kids had the day off school. What were we gonna do?”