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Posted March 2, 2006

Dora the Explorer and The Little Contract That Could

By David Andrew Taylor, Equity Deputy

January 2005 marked the beginning of rehearsals for the current tour of DORA THE EXPLORER LIVE: DORA'S PIRATE ADVENTURE, and also marked the ninth tour to go out under its own special agreement contract. When it completes its projected one and one-half year run, this Dora tour will have played to hundreds of thousands of children in a total of 87 cities, including two return engagements in New York City and Toronto; it will have broken several box office records, earning it the distinction, along with Blue’s Clues Live, as one of the highest grossing tours on the road, and it will have provided up to 62 weeks of work for its Equity company members.

The Dora special agreement came into existence in 1998 when the first non-Equity tour of RUGRATS: A LIVE ADVENTURE was organized. By December 1998, both that tour and its sister tour became Equity national tours. The original contract has seen five negotiations over its lifetime, and has been the blueprint for such shows as BLUE'S CLUES LIVE, SCOOBY DOO, and DORA THE EXPLORER LIVE. “The goal of the negotiations is to move this contract closer to the standards of the Production Contract,” said Senior Business Representative Rick Berg early in the contract’s life. I have been the deputy for all but one of the tours (SCOOBY DOO), and have seen the contract grow and develop. It has been a learning experience deciding what areas of the contract needed to be focused on during each subsequent negotiation. Over the past seven years we have come a long way, and although it will take time, I am confident that should this contract survive, it is possible to come very close to these (Production Contract) standards.

The contract, along with the shows that have utilized it, has done its part for the growth of Equity's Membership. The initial organization of the two Rugrats tours brought in an estimated total of 48 new members. Over the course of their productions’ lifetimes, the Blue’s Clues, Scooby, and Dora tours also welcomed many actors into the Union, with the current tour of Dora adding six new members to date.

As of this writing, the current Dora tour is expected to run through May 2006. A non-Equity production will tour the small markets at the same time the Equity tour is playing the larger city markets, and subsequently travel overseas after May 2006. In point of fact, both tour itineraries are confusingly listed together on the producer's website, and until recently, the Equity tour actors’ likenesses (including production photos and b-roll clips) were being used to market the non-Equity version. Through the Union's diligence, that promotional practice has stopped. Click here for a correct listing of the Equity tour dates.

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