Up and coming theater hopefuls might have a difficult time finding work this winter as 26 Broadway shows remain dark.
As the stagehands stike enters its fourth week, companies continue to cease auditions and hiring.
“Those hopefuls have it the hardest,” said Mark Hardy, Northern Kentucky University theater professor, actor and former New Yorker. “Graduates who are planning to move to New York for work probably won’t even find auditions.”
However, despite the continuing debates, supreme Court Justice Helen Freedman upheld the spirit of Christmas Nov. 22 as she ordered “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” back to the stage.
“The Grinch,” along with 26 other Broadway shows, have been dark since Nov. 10, when New York’s stagehands walked off the job, according to the Associated Press.
“The Grinch” opened over the Thanksgiving weekend to become one of only nine productions running on New York’s Broadway strip.
According to the Associated Press, Freedman felt that the show’s production company would be irreparably harmed if the “The Grinch” was not permitted to resume its $6 million limited holiday run.
Shows that continue be dark do so because the stagehands are an essential part of any theater production and handle all the behind-the-scenes elements of a show.
“As shows continue to become more technical and mechanized, you’d think they’d need less people backstage, but that’s not the case,” Mark Hardy said. “The shows then also become more complex so there needs to be more people running everything and keeping everyone safe.”
The contract dispute between the stagehands and producers has focused on how many stagehands are required to open a Broadway show and keep it running, the Associated Press reported.
“Just like any, they are there to fight for fair pay and treatment of its members, what they are asking is not unreasonable,” Hardy said.
He added that the shows with separate contracts that weren’t affected by the strike might strike in sympathy if it lasts much longer.
“The reality is that those stagehands are not getting a salary or unemployment,” Hardy said. “The emergency fund is there to help out, but it will only last so long.”
Hardy said that the strike affects all aspects of not only the theater world, but also the surrounding community including souvenir shops, restaurants and bars.
Luckily for Cincinnatians, the Broadway Series traveling casts and crews remain unaffected by the strike. The group will begin its presentation of the 2006 Tony Award winner “The Drowsy Chaperone” at 8 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Aronoff Center in Downtown Cincinnati.