BroadwayWorld Strike Coverage Day 2: On the Scene
As 8:00 drew close on Saturday with no end to the Stagehands Strike in sight, audiences found themselves turned away from many Broadway theaters. Police kept a quiet watch over the picket lines. Strikers marched in endless circles and handed out flyers to passers-by. Theatre owners explained how refunds could be obtained. Children sobbed outside of The Little Mermaid. Emotions ran high for everybody standing outside in the cold, but for all the disappointed theatergoers, Broadway seemed remarkably calm.
Most audience members reacted with disappointment. "We came all the way down for The Seafarer," said Frank Reardon of Ottawa. "We're disappointed, for sure, but I can understand what job action is. I always [have sympathy for the strikers]. We'll do something else. All of New York is a show for me."
Some reacted with anger. "We traveled 2,000 miles to come here, and this is what we're reading in the morning in the paper," said an unidentified visitor from Quebec outside of The Little Mermaid. "It's disgusting. Everybody has to work." Luc Gregoire, also from Quebec, said that he and his family had come to New York just to see a show. "I'm not that happy about it, but there's not much I can do," he said. "There are so many tourists traveling to New York just to see shows. It's not like [the strikers] are jeopardizing some New Yorker's night. They're jeopardizing an event that people planned, that they traveled a lot to see, because we don't have this kind of show in Montreal, or anyplace else." Still, he had sympathy for the strikers, and said that he would continue to visit New York and attend Broadway shows. "I might not buy my tickets in advance," he added." I might go on the TKTS line and try to get the tickets for the same night."
New Yorkers seemed more sympathetic towards the strikers. "Honestly, I think it's great that they're striking if they're not getting what they need," said Stephanie from Harlem outside of Rock n' Roll. "It's unfortunate that I don't get to see the show tonight, but yeah, I think it's great. I think more people should strike."
Some Broadway actors joined the picket lines, showing solidarity for their co-workers behind the scenes. Julia Murney, recently of Wicked, mused on the complex nature of the business and the strike. "You wish for the sides to come to an agreement," she said, "because you want everyone to be able to go back to work, and you want [everyone to] get what they need on both sides of the argument." The situation, she says, is "not very cut-and-dry. It's very complicated. It is difficult. There's no way you can do these shows without the stagehands, from a simple show to a very complicated show. You can't do it without them... I just hope that they find a way to get back to the table." Even Murney had to admit to some personal disappointment from the strike: "I had a cousin who came in today to see Curtains this afternoon and was so devastated. I hear the kids are crying a lot."At How The Grinch Stole Christmas, however, kids crowded under the St. James marquee and grinned as the cast sang a medley of songs from the show. At least for some theatergoers left out in the cold, the show still went on as best it could.