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Actors Union plans to boycott more non -equity tours in Equity Houses

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PB ENT.
Broadway Legend
joined:6/11/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/11/03
" While this is not news to anyone, nor do I wish to put out the "Big Rat" in front of the theaters, I do feel that this is worth posting . If Equity houses continue to "sneak in" non equity shows that pay the actors half and charge the patrons the equity show prices...well I think people should at least be informed about this pratice. Having covered "Grease, Cats, Music Man non-equity tours as part of my job, I can tell you that the union actors are not the only people upset about this ongoing situation". Patrons are not happy either when too often it shows up in the quality of the productions" ~pati b.

Actors' union plans to boycott musical
Grease staged with non-union cast

Pay much lower than usual rates


RICHARD OUZOUNIAN
ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER

Grease may be the word but not to the Canadian Actors' Equity Association.

The union representing all professional Canadian stage performers announced Friday that it is planning to boycott the non-union American touring version of the 1950s musical romp starring Frankie Avalon when it opens at the Hummingbird Centre on July 15.

Also under fire is a similar production of Miss Saigon starting a Canadian tour in Vancouver on Tuesday.

Nothing in the advertising for either musical indicates that it is anything other than a fully professional presentation but, according to the association, the opposite is the case.

Not a single cast member in the two shows is a member of the actors' union and they are being compensated at rates far below the union minimum.

The Canadian Theatre Agreement calls for people involved in a touring show to receive no less than $1,025 a week (all figures Canadian) in salary, with $100 a day for expenses.

Salaries for the Grease and Miss Saigon tours are reportedly running as low as $540, with $40 a day for expenses.

Despite that nearly 50 per cent disparity in compensation, the $85 top price being charged for Grease is not comparably lower than the $105 high-end ticket for The Lion King or Stratford's The King And I.

Susan Wallace, executive director of the equity association, feels that "to bring a non-union show into this city at this time is an insult to all the artists who have been put out of work by the closing of Mamma Mia! or are still struggling to find work in an entertainment economy depleted by SARS."

Similar non-association shows have played Toronto before, most recently a February, 2002 tour of Cats at the Canon, but Wallace felt the double punch of Grease and Miss Saigon, "while hometown theatre is suffering, put us over the edge."

The American branch of the union has been fighting these tours for years, mounting a major celebrity-driven boycott of the 2001 non-association tour of The Music Man, but this is the first time any such action has been undertaken in Canada.

The equity association is organizing "informational pickets" on the opening nights of both musicals, feeling that the public has a right to know that the cast of the show they are attending are not members of the union.

Beyond that, what Wallace really wants is "an all-out boycott of these two productions in every stop across Canada. We're encouraging the public to spend their money at the wonderful professional theatres across this country."

Neither the representatives of the touring shows nor the management of the Hummingbird Centre returned calls.

Additional articles by Richard Ouzounian




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www.pbentertainmentinc.com BWW regional writer "Philadelphia/South Jersey"
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Mr. Tuttle
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/17/03
Tell Equity to join the real world of business.

You think they're really concerned that Joe X. gets to see (what they want billed as) a "professional production"? Riiiight. Who are they to make that judgement? Did they see the horrid tours of "Aspects of Love", "How To Succeed" and "Blood Brothers?h yess...but these were Equity shows so they HAD TO BE GREAT (according to Equity standards).

Do we see Coke picketing at store where they sell Coke and Pepsi cause Coke feels Pepsi is an "unprofessional" product? No folks..something called "free trade" and "corporate competition". Equity has no right to judge anyone or anything to lable them acceptable to THEIR standards.

I await our little Equity folks to come out of the woodwork and start banging their drums any minute (include one that's begining to sound like a broken record).
Ignorance is temporary. Stupidity last forever. Watch out BWW... HE'S BACK.
Sunfish
Broadway Star
joined:6/11/03
Broadway Star
joined:
6/11/03
I am not a member of Equity or any other Union but I certainly respect their right to protect the jobs of their members. Bringing in non-Equity tours to Equity houses, paying the actors MUCH less, and yet charging the same as an Equity show is not only unfair to the actors (both Equity and non) but IS misleading to the public. I've seen some dreadful Equity tours, and some OK non-Equity productions. But overall, when one pays Broadway prices and gets not even an Equity national tour, but non-Equity, the consumer is getting screwed.

Non-equity actors should be paid as much as Equity if the producers are going to charge the same for the show.

I am amazed at the way people rail at unions, when if they did not protect their membership's jobs, wages and benefits EVERRYONE would be getting less of all three. Unions set the standards and to remain competitive for competent workers, even non-Union employers have to maintain similar levels.

I realize there are far more creative types who want work rather than, say, electricians, and there will always be more than enough willing to work for nothing, but NO actors could make anything near a living wage without union protection.

Off soapbox.
Belter
Stand-by
joined:6/13/03
Stand-by
joined:
6/13/03
I'm definitely on the side of the producers. Or rather, against Equity. Equity is not fair. If Equity had open membership, then I would feel it was a fair organization. But it is misleading to believe that because someone is a member of Equity, they are better (in any way) than someone who is not. All they are is lucky. They were in the right place at the right time or knew the right people. Or the person who would have been better didn't show up.

It's patently ridiculous for Equity members to appeal to non-union actors to not audition or not perform ... when they bar non-union people from even auditioning for Equity shows, or make people wait until every Equity member has been seen.

Unions with restricted membership should be illegal, IMO. Either every worker can join and be protected, or it's a hypocritical organization to begin with. Protecting jobs? More like "keeping them for US"

As far as lying to consumers -- as someone else mentioned, there are no guarantees that a show will be good just because the people in it found their way into equity. Ticket prices do not have to be based on anything but what the market will allow.

I cannot weep because actors who are in Equity don't have a certain market cornered. Everyone needs a job -- even Actor and Actresses and Costumers and Stage Managers and Musicians who aren't under Equity's thumb.
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PB ENT.
Broadway Legend
joined:6/11/03
Broadway Legend
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It was not my intention to light a fire here. The Equity vs. non-equity issue depends largely on which side of the fence you are on...both sides have rights. Some things are fair and unfiar on boths sides also. I don't feel it's in my best interest to express my opinion.

Mr. Tuttle, Coke & Pepsi ARE equal products and usually sold as such. But I would feel cheated if they slapped a "Sam's Choice" label and sold it as Coke or Pepsi unbeknownst to me.

Please don't turn this into an "Equity doesn't always play fair" " " Some non Equity shows are better than Equity" "Non Equity actors deserve to work" argument. All of these statments are true! But tell me, have you ever seen a professional baseball game sneak minor league players in the lineup? Are they any less deserving to play the game? Unfortunately this is one of the few union jobs that people are not real clear on the do's and dont's and it does affect everyone down the line.

I just think regular theater patrons do deserve to know what they're paying for at a show. Some DO care.
www.pbentertainmentinc.com BWW regional writer "Philadelphia/South Jersey"
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/18/03
I am in equity and I am straddling the fence on this issue. Both sides are riht and wrong at the same time.