NEW YORK – Much of Broadway went dark Saturday, as a long-threatened strike by stagehands became a reality and thousands of theater-goers were left holding tickets to shows that shut down.
It was the second strike to hit the Great White Way in five years and came as a shock to many people who had expected that talks between producers and the union representing stagehands would continue through the weekend.
The work stoppage, which threatens to cast a shadow on New York’s busy and lucrative holiday season, has thrown yet another branch of the American entertainment world into turmoil. Earlier in the week, members of the Writers Guild of America went on strike, bringing movie and television show production to a halt.
Twenty-six Broadway shows were affected by Saturday’s walkout, including hits like “Wicked,” “Mamma Mia!” “Jersey Boys” “The Lion King,” “Chicago” and “Avenue Q.”
Talks between Local One, which includes stagehands, and the League of American Theaters and Producers had been going on for three months, since the current contract expired on July 31. But they broke down Thursday.
The key issue in the talks has been how many stagehands must be employed by each production.