Friday, November 23, 2007

Grinch Returns Today to Steal More Hearts

Posted by Bruce Miller
Hannah Zold’s pal, Aaron Galligan-Stierle, will be back on the boards today playing Papa Who in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, thanks to an injunction issued by NY State Judge Helen Freedman. In fact, he’ll have ten shows this weekend, and, I’m sure, a much appreciated paycheck.

But if Jujamcyn Theatres LLC has its way—Jujamcyn is the corporate entity that owns the St. James Theater in which The Grinch is performed—Aaron and his castmates will be back out in the cold again next week.

The Grinch is produced by James Sanna. “We got our Miracle on 44th Street,” he said after the judge’s decision was announced. Hearing the good news, the child actors in The Grinch sang and danced on the courtyard steps.

So what gives?

The labor dispute is between Local One of the stagehands union and the League of American Theatres and Producers, which owns the 27 Broadway theatres affected by the strike. Well, almost. Nine of the 27 theatres are owned by the Nederlander Producing Company of America Inc, which is not a member of the League of American Theatres and Producers and has its own contract with Local One. But the Nederlanders have agreed to stand with the League during this labor dispute.

Apparently 26 of the 27 shows taking place in the League and Nederlander theatres are also co-produced by the League and Nederlander organizations. But Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas is different. Even though the show takes place in a League building, the show is produced solely by James Sanna and his partners. And Sanna has his own contract with Local One, a contract that is not affected by the strike.

This being the case, I don’t know why Local One decided to strike The Grinch in the first place, but they did. Then, when James Sanna brought it to the union’s attention that he had a separate, viable contract with the union, and that his show was not co-produced by the League, Sanna and Local One triumphantly announced that The Grinch would re-open.

But by that time the Jujamcyn organization had seen all the bad press the union had received for shutting down a children’s show at Christmastime, so they decided to lock the doors of the St. James until the entire strike was resolved, putting more pressure on the union.

With his show once again closed, Sanna and Local One went to court to seek an injunction that required Jujamcyn to unlock the doors.

Thankfully, Judge Freedman saw the folly in all this gamesmanship and ordered the Jujamcyn folks to get out of the way and allow the show to go on. “I think one Grinch in this city is enough," Freedman told the packed courtroom.

Immediately thereafter, the Jujamcyn organization announced that they were filing an appeal.

As Charlie Brown would say, ...

--Bruce Miller

1 comment:

Thespis' Little Helper said...

Great blog Bruce! Right on!