The Broadway creative team of “Urinetown” is telling the two regional productions of the show they accused of plagiarism to put their DVDs where their mouth is.
The team’s lawyer, Ronald H. Shechtman, has been in contact with reps of the now-shuttered productions in Chicago and Akron, Ohio, asking them to share visual documentation of the performances. The New York side, which met Monday, also expressed willingness to make available their records of the Broadway original in the interest of determining whether the two regional shows plagiarized the Rialto staging, choreography and design.
“We have asked them if they have anything to show us indicating their productions were different,” said Shechtman.
“Urinetown” creatives, including Broadway director John Rando and choreographer John Carrafa, publicly accused the two productions of copying their work Nov. 13. Move was backed by two unions, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and United Scenic Artists.
Akron’s Carousel Dinner Theater responded with a lawsuit Nov. 22 asking the court to decide who brought which creative elements to the table, while lawyers for the Chicago incarnation responded with a letter denying any wrongdoing.
Tom Mullen, director of the Chi “Urinetown,” isn’t backing down. “I’m not going to be bullied. I don’t feel we were in the wrong,” Mullen said.
He added that his collaborators have begun to compile a list of the ways in which their production differed from the New York version. “My creative team has isolated 2,000 differences thus far, and we’re not even through the second act,” he said.
Sean Cercone, a.d. of the Carousel, offered no comment when contacted regarding the situation.
The original accusation asserts that creatives of the two regional productions appropriated the Broadway team’s direction, design and choreography ideas without crediting the Gotham artists. When Chicago and Akron producers obtained rights to the show, they licensed only the script and score.
The snag in that argument, though, is that until recently, the choreography and set design for “Urinetown” were not copyrighted, and copyrights are still pending on the direction and costumes.
“You can’t run around chasing the money after the fact,” Mullen said.
But Shechtman and his side believe that the offending productions were similar enough to the Broadway version that their claims would hold up in court. “If these shows are prepared to license this work, a settlement can easily be reached,” he said.