Stage Door News
New York: Strike by Broadway union of actors and stage managers could halt tours including “Hamilton”
Tuesday, April 4, 2023
Broadway shows on tour across North America, including the hit juggernaut “Hamilton,” currently playing at Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre, could come to a halt after the union representing actors and stage managers issued a strike threat Monday.
The Actors’ Equity Association, which represents some 51,000 actors and stage managers in live entertainment, has authorized its lead negotiator to call a strike on all Broadway tours.
If the union does follow through with the strike, some 23 Broadway tours — including the And Peggy touring production of “Hamilton” in Toronto — will be impacted, association spokesperson Gabriela Geselowitz confirmed in an email to the Toronto Star.
The possible escalation in job action comes amid an impasse in negotiations between the union and the Broadway League, a national trade association representing theatre owners and producers.
The union, whose members have been working without a contract since February, said it is fighting for better housing and per diem compensation for its members on tour.
“After two months of slow but forward motion between the parties, we still don’t have a contract that meets our members’ basic needs,” said executive director Al Vincent, Jr. in a statement issued Monday, noting that the union has been bargaining with the Broadway League since January.
The association has two more days of bargaining scheduled with the Broadway League, April 11 and 12.
“No one wants to disrupt the work of bringing theatre to audiences across the country,” added association president Kate Shindle, “but we are prepared to strike Broadway League producers if we are not able to reach a fair agreement.”
Several Broadway actors currently on tour have taken to social media to voice their support for the union.
Tony Award-winning actor Stephanie J. Block, who is starring in “Into the Woods,” said the minimum salary and per diem allowance afforded to touring actors and stage managers “hasn’t changed that much” since she last toured more than 15 years ago, despite inflation and the increased cost of living.
“I don’t have all the answers, but I certainly know that with the per diem that is being offered to all equity members across the board — even those that are not making the minimum (salary) — … it’s just not enough.”
The union said there are currently two major agreements for touring companies. The short engagement touring agreement has half a dozen tiers, the lowest of which has weekly minimum wages of $662 for actors and $751 for stage managers.
The last major strike, which lasted a month, occurred in 2019 over developmental presentations of new productions.
Besides “Hamilton,” the touring production of “Hadestown,” which plays at the Royal Alexandra Theatre from July 5 to Aug. 20, could also be impacted if there is a strike, Karastamatis added.
In an email to the Star, Broadway League spokesperson Scalla Jakso declined to comment about the union’s strike threat.
By Joshua Chong for www.thestar.com.
Photo: Hamilton at the Princess of Wales Theatre. © 2023 Steve Russell.