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May 27, 2004

Equity Members Stop Work At Orlando Broadway Dinner Theatre

Producer in Default for Pension, Health and Dues Monies

Friday, May 28, 2004 – Actors’ Equity, the union for professional actors and stage managers in the U.S., has instructed its members not to begin rehearsals at the Orlando Broadway Dinner Theatre for its upcoming production of ANNIE, which were slated to begin on May 24th. The current of production of CAMELOT, which closes this Sunday, is not affected by the order. Equity represents over 450 actors and stage managers in the Orlando area.

“We have had to take this regrettable, but necessary action, to uphold our contract and protect our local actors,” said Equity Senior Business Representative Rick Berg. “The theatre currently owes Equity and the Equity-League Pension and Health Trust Funds, over $11,000. This is a serious financial deficit that must be addressed before Union members are permitted to return to work. ”

According to Berg, Equity has made numerous attempts to work out an acceptable payment plan with the producer, Karen Good, who assumed management of the dinner theatre at the beginning of 2003. However, Ms. Good was unable to reduce the theatre’s over-all debt to the Union, which now exceeds the bond being held by Equity by more than $3,000. “If members continued to work, the theatre could add thousands of dollars a week to its current tab.”

Equity requires employers to bond salaries, pension and health benefits in order to guarantee that actors and stage managers get paid. Bonding is one of the important foundations of the Union, going back to its inception more than 90 years ago, when actors were frequently stranded on the road without paychecks or the money to get home.

“Payments for pension and health insurance are an essential and significant part of the actors’ compensation,” continued Berg. “Thus, the members working for the Orlando Broadway Dinner Theatre since mid-March have not been fully paid. While the Trust Funds will provide credit for members through May 30, they cannot continue to do so indefinitely, without receiving the appropriate premiums.”

“We realize that this is a very serious action that will result in temporary hardship for our members, the theatre and the public. However, the producer’s financial position left us without any recourse. We hope that the Orlando Dinner Theatre will be able to address its default so that we can return to work.”

For further information, contact:
Rick Berg, Senior Business Representative
212-869-8530 ext 395 / cell phone: 917-617-0852





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