SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — Their job is to bring the bright lights of Broadway to cities across the country.
But now, upcoming Broadway shows in Tampa Bay and elsewhere may not go on as planned.
The union representing 51,000 professional actors and stage managers is threatening a strike amid ongoing contract negotiations with the show producers.
“We’re hoping it doesn’t come to that,” actress Mary Beth Donahoe said.
After starting her career in regional theater, Donahoe is part of the ensemble cast for Broadway’s “Mean Girls the Musical” national tour.
“I was out on tour with Beauty and the Beast once before,” she said, “so I’ve actually played at the Van Wezel Center once before.”
Before opening night for Mean Girls in Sarasota Tuesday, the Actor’s Equity Association passed out leaflets to ticker holders explaining the possibility of a strike.
“Patrons and ticket holders have a lot of power,” Donahoe said. “They’re the people that can make sure our shows go on.”
The union also gave out stickers saying “Unite the Road.”
“We would love our audiences to sign onto a solidarity pledge that should anything happen in the future, they would be unwilling to cross a picket line,” union organizer Nate Claus said.
During contract negotiations with the Broadway League, which represents the show producers, the union is fighting for higher per diem payments for its actors and stage managers while on tour.
“Obviously in a post-pandemic world, hotel prices have gotten higher, Airbnb costs have gotten higher and our per diem hasn’t quite risen yet to match that,” Donahoe said.
Donahoe told News Channel 8 she is hopeful a work stoppage can be avoided while the Mean Girls casts brings the theater adaptation of the popular film to audiences nationwide.
“We’re all in the performing arts industry,” she said. “We like to find creative solutions to things so I’m sure we can find a creative solution to these negotiations.”
When reached by email Tuesday afternoon, the Broadway League had no comment about a potential strike.
The two sides returned to the bargaining table Tuesday for the first time in more than a week.