Broadway averts actors' strike. New deal keeps theaters from going dark, as they did last year during musicians' walkout

By Gary Susman
Updated July 13, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

After more than two weeks of tense negotiations, Broadway producers and actors tentatively reached a new contract agreement on Monday, averting a strike that would have darkened not only Broadway but touring productions of Broadway shows nationwide. ”The contract will serve our industry and theatergoers well, keeping Broadway strong in New York and creating more opportunities on the road,” said a joint statement issued by both Actors Equity and the League of American Theaters and Producers. Final details were to be hammered out Tuesday, then sent to the Actors Equity membership for a vote.

The actors had been working without a contract since June 27. At issue in the negotiations were issues of worker safety, rising health care costs, and especially the increasing use of non-Equity casts on touring productions. According to the Associated Press, producers tentatively agreed to provide more road work for union members in return for pay concessions from actors in road companies of less popular shows.

The deal averted what would have been the second strike on Broadway in 16 months. Last March, a musicians’ strike darkened stages for just four nights, but that was enough to cost theaters $5 million in lost revenue.