With Broadway hunkering down for a box office bummer this holiday weekend, the usual PR benefits of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade look to be deflated a bit by the ongoing Rialto shutdown.
And anxious legiters continue to grapple with the fallout of the strike, with Broadway now stuck in deep freeze at least through Sunday.
The Macy’s event traditionally provides a high-visibility national promotional window for Broadway shows. This year cast members of four productions — one shut down, three still running — are set to perform songs during the Thursday morning telecast.
The Rialto labor dispute will likely get a brief on-air acknowledgement, according to a Macy’s rep. That mention stands to undermine the publicity boost of national airtime, as continued exposure of the work stoppage could make potential theatergoers think twice before planning a trip to Broadway.
Cast members of the tuner “Legally Blonde,” which has not raised its curtain since stagehands union Local One called a walkout Nov. 10, will perform the song “What You Want” during the initial hour of the NBC broadcast.
But they’ll be strutting it in “Blonde” T-shirts and cheerleading outfits bought specifically for the occasion because retrieving actual show costumes would require crossing the picket line. (Inspired parade auds won’t be able to rush out to catch “Blonde” onstage, but they can tune into MTV, which will rebroadcast its “Legally Blonde” program twice Thanksgiving Day.)
Thesps perform for the parade telecast on an AFTRA contract, so the legit strike caused by the clash between stagehands and producers doesn’t stop them from appearing at the event. Two stars of “Spring Awakening,” Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele, will sing “Give My Regards to Broadway” on a float, and Bob Saget of “The Drowsy Chaperone” will participate in parade coverage.
Lineup of four Rialto shows, selected for the parade before the strike hit, coincidentally includes three unaffected by the shutdown: “Young Frankenstein” (whose cast will perform “Transylvania Mania”), “Mary Poppins” (doing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”) and “Xanadu” (rollerskating through a medley of the show’s tunes).
Meanwhile, Broadway skeds continue to be disrupted by the work stoppage.
Chi theater company Steppenwolf announced plans to extend the limited-engagement Rialto transfer of “August: Osage County” by three weeks to make up for lost perfs, while Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” indefinitely postponed its Dec. 6 opening.
Producers of “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” went through with litigation threats made Monday, heading into a Gotham court to force Jujamcyn Theaters to allow their show to resume perfs. An evidentiary hearing is set for this morning. (Local One removed its picket line from “Grinch” on Monday because the show has a separate contract with the union, but Jujamcyn, which owns the “Grinch” venue, is a member of the management side of the dispute, the League of American Theaters and Producers. Jujamcyn refused to allow union members back in to work out of solidarity with the League.)
And along the Rialto, the talk was all about resuming negotiations, with Sunday batted around as a potential date to head back to the table. But as of late Tuesday, nothing was set, leaving legiters with little to give thanks for.