The Broadway musicians' strike is over. New York's mayor brokers a compromise that will raise curtains again after a four-day walkout

By Gary Susman
March 11, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Broadway’s biggest marquee name right now may be a man not known for his ability to sing, dance, or act: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The mayor can take some credit for ending the Broadway musicians’ strike by bringing the union and the producers’ league to the bargaining table Monday for all-night negotiations.

At a press conference Tuesday morning, the mayor announced a settlement that would allow curtains to rise again on Tuesday night, ending four days of darkness on Broadway that had cost an estimated $4.8 million in lost ticket sales and $7.2 million in lost revenues to New York businesses.

The major sticking point of the negotiations, the issue of minimum orchestra sizes, was resolved with a compromise. Producers had sought to cut the required minimums at the largest theaters from 26 players to 15, but musicians feared that producers ultimately wanted the right to do away with pit orchestras altogether and replace them with taped or synthesized ”virtual orchestras.”

In fact, the producers had planned to do just that in the event of a strike, but the actors, stagehands, and other Broadway union members refused to cross the musicians’ picket lines, forcing most musicals to go dark. The new agreement calls for cuts to no fewer than 18 or 19 players at the biggest venues for at least the next 10 years.

”Neither side got everything it wanted and neither side was able to get through the process without making compromises,” said producer Jed Bernstein. ”While we have made some reductions in house minimums we have preserved live Broadway,” said musicians’ union president Bill Moriarty. ”We will continue to provide the best music that you will ever hear in your life.”