×
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

  • Isabelle HuppertIsabelle Huppert Life Achievement Award,

    Isabelle Huppert, Chris Noth to Appear on Stage in 'The Mother'

    Isabelle Huppert will appear opposite Chris Noth in the Atlantic Theater Company’s production of “The Mother.” It marks the U.S. premiere of the show. “The Mother” was written by French playwright Florian Zeller and translated by Christopher Hampton. Huppert, an icon of European film, was Oscar-nominated for “Elle” and appears in the upcoming Focus Features [...]

  • Could Anyone Follow ‘Springsteen on Broadway’?

    Could Anyone Follow 'Springsteen on Broadway'? Here Are Five Things They'd Need (Guest Column)

    After 235-odd shows, with grosses in excess of $100 million, a Special Tony Award and a hotly anticipated Netflix special debuting Sunday, “Springsteen on Broadway” is an unprecedented Broadway blockbuster. As with any success in entertainment, the rush to replicate The Boss’ one-man show reportedly is under way, with a consortium led by Live Nation, CAA [...]

  • Clueless review

    Off Broadway Review: 'Clueless' the Musical

    How does a musical stage adaptation of Amy Heckerling’s 1995 film comedy of oblivious privileged teens, “Clueless,” play in the era of female empowerment and millennial engagement? True, the principal skills of lead teen Cher Horowitz are the superficial ones of mall shopping and makeovers. But her sweet spirit and independence, plus some added P.C. relevance, [...]

  • Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary,

    Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary, 'Hugo Cabret' Musical

    Producers Tim Headington and Theresa Steele Page have unveiled Ley Line Entertainment with a Brian Wilson documentary and a “Hugo Cabret” musical in the works. Ley Line said it’s a content development, production, and financing company with projects spanning film, television, stage, and music. Headington financed and produced “The Young Victoria,” “Argo,” “Hugo,” and “World [...]

  • Daniel Radcliffe

    Listen: How Broadway Made Daniel Radcliffe a Better Actor

    Acting onstage has been a regular part of Daniel Radcliffe’s career for more than a decade — and the “Harry Potter” star says there’s a good reason for that: It’s made him better. “It gives me a lot of confidence as an actor, which is not always something that I’ve felt,” Radcliffe said on the [...]

  • The Jungle review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Jungle'

    With the rumbling of semis careening by and the sound of Middle Eastern music in the distance, “The Jungle” aims to vividly immerse audiences into the world of the real-life migrant and refugee camp of the same name. By telling the story of the Jungle’s creation in Calais, France, in 2015, and its eventual destruction [...]

  • Hillary Clinton'Network' play opening night, New

    Hillary Clinton Attends Opening of Broadway's 'Network'

    A 1976 film might not be expected to translate seamlessly to Broadway in 2018, but for the cast and creative team behind “Network,” which premiered Thursday night with Hillary Clinton in the audience, the story still feels uncomfortably close to home. “It was a satire then, and now it’s documentary realism,” said Lee Hall, who [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content