Stage Door News

New York: Broadway unions bring legal action against Garth Drabinsky for unpaid wages

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Actors' Equity, representing Broadway actors and stage managers, and United Scenic Artists Local USA 829, representing theatrical designers, have brought legal action against the producers of Paradise Square, citing nearly $350,000 in owed benefit contributions, wages, and payments.

The move comes just as the musical set a closing date for July 17, news of which was released July 11.

"Since opening, the producers of Paradise Square have touted the incredible work of the designers, artists, and professionals both on and off the Barrymore stage," says Local USA 829 National Business Agent Carl Mulert in a statement. "Yet, prior to announcing the production’s close, the producers have known for months that they owe the designers and assistant designers who have built the world of Paradise Square thousands upon thousands in unpaid wages and benefit contributions. Now that the production is closing, who is being stiffed? Our members."

"Equity is pursuing every avenue available to ensure the actors and stage managers of Paradise Square receive everything their contract guarantees them," adds Actors' Equity in a separate statement.

The legal drama is not the first for Paradise Square's team of producers, led by Garth Drabinsky. The Ragtime and Show Boat producer was convicted of fraud and forgery in 2009 following the dissolution of his production company Livent. Paradise Square is Drabinsky's first Broadway outing since being granted parole and released from prison in 2014. Equity also put a stop work order on the production earlier this year following contract disputes, a move that lasted only one day. Local USA 829's actions have been filed against Paradise Square Broadway Limited Partnership, which lists Bernard Abrams as president, while Actors' Equity's actions were filed against Paradise Square Production Services Inc., also led by Abrams.

The original musical, which opened April 3, is directed by Moisés Kaufman, with choreography by Tony winner Bill T. Jones. It takes place during the Civil War and tells the rich story of Irish immigrants and Black Americans fighting for a similar cause. Star Joaquina Kalukango won a 2022 Tony Award for her performance in the work.

A national tour is reportedly in the works, eyeing the 2023-2024 season, along with a number of international productions. An original Broadway cast album is expected to release in September.

Paradise Square was conceived by Black 47 frontman Larry Kirwan. Christina Anderson, Craig Lucas, and Kirwan penned the musical's book to a score with music by Jason Howland, lyrics by Nathan Tysen and Masi Asare, and additional music by Kirwan.

The production also has staging by Alex Sanchez; music supervision, direction, and orchestrations by Howland; scenic design by Allen Moyer; costume design by Toni-Leslie James; lighting design by Donald Holder; sound design by Jon Weston; and projection design by Wendall K. Harrington.

By Logan Culwell-Block for