Broadway is back. The 26 shows shut down since Nov. 10 by a strike of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees' Local One (a.k.a. the stagehands' union) will be up and running tonight, following a tentative agreement between the union and the League of American Theaters and Producers. (The limited-run holiday show, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, resumed performances the day after Thanksgiving, though its producers had to go to court force Jujamcyn, the owners of the St. James Theatre, to allow the reopening.)
Everyone involved in the start-and-stop, sometimes acrimonious negotiations was making nice and acting all holly-jolly happy after reaching the agreement late Wednesday.
Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the League, commented, "What is most important is that Broadway's lights will once again shine brightly, with a diversity of productions that will delight all theatergoers during this holiday time."
James J. Claffey Jr., president of Local 1, said, "The people of Broadway are looking forward to returning to work, giving the theatergoing public the joy of Broadway, the greatest entertainment in the world."
According to the web site I Love New York Theater, theater fans who had bought tickets to performances canceled during the strike will get refunds (minus Federal Express delivery charges), and the entrepreneurial producers of Chicago were offering $26.50 tickets for tonight's performance, the first featuring ex-Sopranos stars Aida Turturro and Vincent Pastore. (Too bad, though, for the folks who planned trips and spent money on plane tickets, hotel rooms and meals, hoping to have the kind of Broadway experience that draws so many tourists to New York. Maybe they got an early start on their holiday shopping?)
The economic fallout from the strike has been huge: an estimated $2 million per day, or $38 million, in lost revenue to all the businesses tied to Broadway; a dip in box office receipts from $23.3 million during Thanksgiving week 2006 to $4.29 million this year.
Everyone touched by the strike -- producers, stagehands, actors, taxi drivers,ushers, people working in Theater District restaurants -- is hoping that scads of VITs (Very Important Tourists) will be just as happy as they are that the Great White Way is glowing and going strong again. And that the next League-labor negotiation doesn't lead to Strike: The Sequel.