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2 posts from October 2007

October 23, 2007

Lights Out for Broadway?

If you follow Broadway theater at all, you know that on Sunday, members of Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (the union representing most of Broadway's stagehands) authorized a strike against the League of American Theaters and Producers.

That doesn't mean you should start trying to get a refund if you've got November tickets to Spring Awakening or Jersey Boys or some other hot fall show.  But it does mean that, come Dec. 1 and the busy holiday season, the majority of Broadway's theaters would go dark if the union's leaders act on the strike vote.

At issue for the stagehands, who have been working without a contract since the end of July:  pay (of course) and work rules.  Producers are offering a 16 percent increase over five years but want changes in provisions that can force them to hire more stagehands than a show needs.  The union is asking for a 22 percent pay increase over five years, and claims the producers' current "final offer" would mean a 38 percent loss in income and jobs.

The last Broadway strike was a four-day walkout by musicians in 2003.  Broadway tourism is big business, and officials estimate that New York businesses (including theaters, restaurants and so on) could lose more than $5 million a day if a strike happens.

Here's hoping the two sides can work out their differences. But if they don't, what's your feeling about a strike?  Take the poll and/or add comments below.

October 16, 2007

Healing Raul

Raul_esparza The way most theater lovers know Raul Esparza -- intense leading man, stirring singer, a Broadway star whose eclectic resume includes everything from Cabaret to Company to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang -- may get a makeover on Wednesday when the Miami-raised actor takes on a new role on ABC's quirky Pushing Daisies.

Esparza will make his first appearance at 8 p.m. on WPLG-ABC 10 this week, but it's expected that he'll pop up more than once.  He's playing Alfredo Aldarisio, a traveling salesman who hawks homeopathic remedies for depression.  In The Fun in Funeral, he offers Chuck (Anna Friel) free samples, which she bakes into feel-good pies for her aunts, Lily (Swoosie Kurtz) and  Vivian (Ellen Greene).

Pushing Daisies is, in fact, full of theater veterans:  Kristin Chenoweth (the Wicked star plays waitress Olive Snook), Lee Pace (he plays Ned, the guy whose awakens the dead, and his stage credits include The Guardians and Small Tragedy), Friel (Closer), Kurtz (Frozen and Fifth of July), Greene (Little Shop of Horrors) and narrator Jim Dale (Barnum).  And now, Esparza.

Here's hoping the in-demand actor is good at multitasking.  On Nov. 23, he starts previews as Lenny in the  Broadway revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, opposite Ian McShane, Michael McKean and Eve Best.  That show opens Dec. 13 at the Cort Theatre.  Want info? Visit Telecharge.