Tonys: Casting Directors Rally in Front of Radio City to Get Broadway’s Attention

A group of some of the most-employed casting directors in the New York theater industry led a rally in front of Radio City Music Hall Thursday morning as part of an ongoing public effort to secure union contracts for Broadway casting directors.

Bernard Telsey (“Hamilton”), Tara Rubin (“Dear Evan Hansen”), Cindy Tolan (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”), David Caparelliotis (“A Doll’s House, Part 2”) and Jim Carnahan (“Groundhog Day’) were among a crowd of around 100 people, including actors and members of other unions, who brandished signs that read “I Support Casting Directors” and marched around the midtown block where Radio City is situated.

The rally was timed to coincide with Tony Awards season, when national attention on Broadway is at its peak. The Tony Awards take place Sunday at Radio City; Thursday morning marked the start of load-in and rehearsals for the ceremony.

“We’re really hoping that our rally here today, and the support we have from all the other unions, will elucidate this cause to producers so they understand that we’re serious,” said Rubin, who has cast Broadway shows including Tony contender “Dear Evan Hansen” as well as “Mamma Mia!” and “Billy Elliot.”

Casting directors — who for a dozen years have had union deals with AMPTP for film and TV — are among the only workers on Broadway not to have health care and pension provisions in their deals with producers. For about a year, the group has worked with Teamsters Local 817 to persuade the Broadway League, the trade association of theater producers and presenters, to negotiate a union contract with them.

The League has so far deferred a decision to the National Labor Relations Board, saying in a statement that casting directors are hired as independent contractors and not as employees of a show. “We have had a respectful dialogue in the past year with Teamsters Local 817 but do not believe it would be appropriate for the Broadway League or its producing members to recognize a union as the bargaining representative of professionals who are not employees of our productions,” the statement read.

Casting directors and Local 817 have pushed back, launching a social media campaign called #FairnessForCasting that’s seen public support from Broadway actors including Alex Brightman (“School of Rock”) and Katrina Lenk (“Indecent”) as well as Liam Neeson. Supporters have also capitalized on the Broadway season’s record-breaking $1.45 billion in sales to highlight what they call the unfairness of the current situation.

Supporters note that the pool of theatrical casting directors is fairly small, meaning that the proposed union contract would only apply to about forty people. “Now we just have to keep ramping up the pressure, and ramping up the noise, until the Broadway producers come to their senses,” said Tom O’Donnell, the president of Teamsters Local 817. “They have to understand that this isn’t something that we’re going to get let go.”

More Legit

  • The American Clock review

    London Theater Review: 'The American Clock'

    Time is money. Money is time. Both come unstuck in “The American Clock.” Arthur Miller’s kaleidoscopic account of the Great Depression, part autobiography, part social history, crawls through the decade after the Wall Street crash, dishing up snapshots of daily life. In the Old Vic’s classy revival, director Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”) tunes into the play’s [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Off Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Sea Wall/A Life'

    Comfy? Okay, let’s talk Death: sudden death, painful death, lingering death, accidental death, and whatever other kinds of death happen to come into the receptive minds of playwrights Simon Stephens (“Sea Wall”) and Nick Payne (“A Life”). The writing in these separate monologues — playing together on a double bill at the Public Theater — [...]

  • Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    With an HBO documentary that places strong allegations of abuse against Michael Jackson premiering in two weeks, the late singer’s estate announced Thursday that it’s canceling a scheduled Chicago test run of a jukebox musical about him. The estate and its producing partner in the musical, Columbia Live Stage, said that they’re setting their sights on going [...]

  • All About Eve review

    West End Review: Gillian Anderson and Lily James in 'All About Eve'

    To adapt a crass old adage: it’s “All About Eve,” not “All About Steve.” Stripping Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s sharp-witted screenplay about a waning theater star of its period trappings, Ivo van Hove’s stage adaptation fine-tunes its feminism for our own sexist age — image-obsessed, anti-aging, the time of Time’s Up. Rather than blaming Lily James’ [...]

  • Adam Shankman

    Listen: Why Adam Shankman Directs Every Movie Like It's a Musical

    Director Adam Shankman’s latest movie, the Taraji P. Henson comedy “What Men Want,” isn’t a musical. But as one of Hollywood’s top director-choreographers of musicals and musical sequences, he approaches even non-musicals with a sense of tempo. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “When I read a script, it processes in my head like a [...]

  • Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella' Review

    L.A. Theater Review: Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella'

    How much can you change “Cinderella” before it is no longer “Cinderella”? In the case of choreography maestro Matthew Bourne — who, it should be said, first unveiled his spin on the classic folk tale some 22 years ago — the music is most certainly “Cinderella” (Prokofiev’s 1945 score, to be exact), but the plot [...]

  • 'Pinter Seven' Review: Martin Freeman Stars

    West End Review: 'Pinter Seven' Starring Martin Freeman

    “Pinter at the Pinter” has been an education — a crash course in Britain’s greatest post-war playwright. Director-producer Jamie Lloyd’s star-studded, six-month sprint through Harold Pinter’s short plays and sketches has been exquisitely curated and consistently revelatory. Not only has Lloyd tuned audiences into the writer’s technique, his unconventional groupings have exposed a load of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content