The lights of Broadway are well and truly shining again, following the end of the industry's 19-day strike in November. Unionised stagehands walked off the job on November 10th, after refusing to agree to new terms with the League of American Theatres and Producers.
The stagehands had been working without a contract since July. Their union was determined to cling to old fashioned working arrangements, and was unwillingly to agree to new streamlined conditions more suited to the modern theatre era, or pay cuts (Producers claimed the average stagehand earns around $150,000 a year).
The strike closed the majority of shows on Broadway (both Musicals and Plays), with only a small number able to continue (including Mel Brooks' new musical, Young Frankenstein
, and Mary Poppins
) because they were under separate union contracts.
It's estimated the three week strike cost New York City up to US$17 million per day. However, while shows are back on the boards, a new deal still hasn't yet been signed. Local One have reached a tentative agreement with Producers, but the new deal is still to be approved by the union's members.
Both sides compromised, with producers forced to offer healthy pay rises over the next five years. However they were able to gain some concessions in reducing the number of staff needed for loading in shows. Producers are currently forced to hire a set number of stagehands, irrespective of the actual daily workload.
Broadway performers have welcomed the return to work, and most shows spent a few days on "brush up" rehearsals. Spring Awakening
star Skylar Astin (who'd just returned from a break after shooting a movie) said it was just like opening night again...
"We've done the show hundreds of times, but we all woke up today with this anxious feeling... People were pacing the halls, doing their lines like it was the first night of previews."
* MTV.com: The Show Must Go On! Broadway Stars Get Back Into Character After Stagehand Strike