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Actors' Equity to rally at Van Wezel 'Mean Girls' show

The nationwide action is planned to highlight labor talks between Broadway producers and touring performers.

Broadway's "Mean Girls" comes to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Broadway's "Mean Girls" comes to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
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The actors won't just be on the stage April 11 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Members of Actors' Equity Association plan to distribute informational leaflets and engage theatergoers outside Tuesday's performance of "Mean Girls" to highlight labor issues.

Stage managers and actors will be handing ticket-holders entering the Van Wezel pamphlets warning about a possible upcoming strike of touring Broadway shows by Actors’ Equity, the main union representing performers in U.S. theater and film.

The labor action will take place from 6-7:30 p.m., prior to the performance of "Mean Girls" at 7:30 p.m. at the Van Wezel, 777 N. Tamiami Trail.

“We don’t want to see stages in Florida or anywhere else in the country go dark,” Actors' Equity President Kate Shindle said in a statement. “But if we can’t reach a fair agreement a strike will happen.”

Negotiators for Actors' Equity and The Broadway League, which represents show producers, are scheduled to return to the bargaining table Tuesday. They have met 17 times since January.

"We understand that the Broadway League and Actors’ Equity have been negotiating terms for a new agreement for actors involved in League/Equity touring productions," said Muffy Lavens, Van Wezel public relations director, in an email. "Additional bargaining dates are scheduled, and we are hopeful that a deal can be reached between the parties."

Actors and stage managers on touring Broadway productions have been working without a new contract since Feb. 5, according to an Actors' Equity press release. The last contract was negotiated in 2019.

Actors' Equity representatives are calling for higher per diems for members of touring shows to cover the rising cost of food and housing as well as what the union terms "adequate job coverage" for stage managers and actors who may need to call out of work while on the road.

In addition to the action occurring in Sarasota, Actors' Equity members will be walking sidewalks and talking to audience members Tuesday night at venues in Durham, North Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia, where touring performances of Broadway's "Hamilton" and "Beetlejuice" are being staged.

Over the weekend, cast members leafleted outside performances of "Les Misérables," "Frozen," "Six" and "Into the Woods" in Durham, Milwaukee and Philadelphia.



Monica Roman Gagnier

Monica Roman Gagnier is the arts and entertainment editor of the Observer. Previously, she covered A&E in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the Albuquerque Journal and film for industry trade publications Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

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