×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Musicians union protests ‘Fever’

Orchestra has fewer members than contract requires

NEW YORK — “Saturday Night Fever” may be flirting with sold-out status on Broadway, but the musicians union Local 802 isn’t celebrating.

On Wednesday, one hour before curtain, Local 802’s Broadway musicians will begin a leafleting campaign aimed at “SNF” audiences.

According to the union, the “SNF” orchestra is composed of seven fewer musicians than contractually required at the Minskoff Theater, where the show opened Oct. 21 and has steadily grown in box office receipts.

“This show is the most egregious example of the dumbing down of the music of Broadway,” said Local 802 president Bill Moriarity. “Our members remain concerned about the quality of music presented generally on Broadway where there is far too much reliance on synthesizers and amplification and not enough on the acoustic orchestra sound that we believe is one of the great attractions of Broadway.”

“Saturday Night Fever,” produced by Robert Stigwood and based on the 1977 film he produced, originated in London, where the new stage musical was orchestrated for 18 musicians. The union minimum at the Minskoff Theater is 24, said Manny Kladitis, the show’s associate producer on Broadway. “In order to fulfill that minimum, we orchestrated seven more keyboard parts. Because they’re also asked to sing, they have received the higher minimum (salary), which is the musicians union minimum.”

But in a written statement, Local 802 said: “The (‘SNF’) producer is insisting that six cast members located in a dressing room in another part of the theater are orchestra members. The cast members are vocalists in the show but each has been given small electronic keyboards called mini-keys to bolster the producer’s argument that they are instrumentalists.”

The union had raised a grievance with the League of American Theatres and Producers. A meeting on the issue was scheduled for Monday, but did not go forward when Local 802 asked that Actors Equity be allowed to participate in the meeting as an observer. The League held that the grievance involved the musicians contract and not the actors contract.

Actors Equity initially had two issues with the Broadway producers of “Saturday Night Fever.” “Contractual requirements are that there be no sweetening, and that swings cannot be used in the chorus,” said Alan Eisenberg, executive director of the thesp union. (“Sweetening” is the use of recordings to supplement the voices of singers on stage; a “swing” is an understudy.) “We did have those two issues, but they were resolved to our satisfaction.”

More Legit

  • Nantucket Sleigh Ride review

    Off Broadway Review: John Guare's 'Nantucket Sleigh Ride'

    Anyone who doesn’t have a cottage on the Cape or the Islands, as they say in Massachusetts, might be puzzled by the title of John Guare’s new play.  “Nantucket Sleigh Ride” is no Revere Beach amusement park ride, but an old whaling term for the death throes of a whale that is still attached to [...]

  • Kiss Me Kate review

    Broadway Review: 'Kiss Me, Kate'

    No, Kate doesn’t get spanked. And for those wondering how the dicey ending of “Kiss Me, Kate” — that musical mashup of “The Taming of the Shrew” and backstage battling exes — would come across in these more sensitive times, well, that’s also been reconsidered for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Broadway revival of the Cole [...]

  • Betrayal review Tom Hiddleston

    West End Review: Tom Hiddleston in 'Betrayal'

    It takes three to tango, and Jamie Lloyd’s “Betrayal” completely grasps that. Having made it his mission to modernize the way we stage Harold Pinter’s plays, his chic, stripped-down staging starring Tom Hiddleston as a cuckolded husband might be his best attempt yet. Pared back and played out on an empty stage, this masterful play [...]

  • Johnny Thompson

    Magician Johnny 'The Great Tomsoni' Thompson Dies at 84

    Johnny Thompson, also known as “The Great Tomsoni,” died in Las Vegas on March 9. He was 84. The showman was a versatile performer of music, magic, comedy, and drama throughout his decades long career. Thompson was born to Polish ancestry in Chicago in 1934. He began his career as a musician and musical arranger. [...]

  • The Devil Wears Prada

    'The Devil Wears Prada' Musical Taps Anna D. Shapiro to Direct

    Miranda Priestly can’t call all the shots. The upcoming musical adaptation of “The Devil Wears Prada” has tapped Anna D. Shapiro to direct the show, which is eyeing an eventual Broadway run. The story of an aspiring writer who works for the magazine editor from hell has previously been a best-selling book and a hit [...]

  • Hugh JackmanBrit Awards 2019 Arrivals, London,

    Hugh Jackman Starring in 'The Music Man' Revival on Broadway

    Hugh Jackman will return to Broadway in an upcoming revival of Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man.” It marks Jackman’s first musical role in more than a decade, which should make it a hot ticket. His last one, “The Boy From Oz,” resulted in a Tony Award for best actor. Jackman will play con man Harold [...]

  • Gareth Owen sound design

    Listen: The Secrets of Broadway Sound Design

    Sound design might be the most thankless job on Broadway — because when you get it right, nobody notices. Besides, a lot of theatergoers — and more than a few Tony voters — don’t quite know what it is. Listen to this week’s podcast below: Broadway and West End sound designer Gareth Owen (“Come From [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content