A union representing the director and choreographers who worked on the recently closed Broadway musical “Paradise Square” is asking a federal court to enforce an arbitration award agreed in May, according to a lawsuit filed late last month. was submitted.
The Theater Directors and Choreographers Association have asked federal court in Manhattan to confirm and enforce the payment of nearly $150,000 owed to the union; the show’s director, Moisés Kaufman; the choreographer Bill T. Jones; and a few others who contributed to the production.
The lawsuit, filed on July 22, said the manufacturing company had still failed to meet its obligations under the award.
The lawsuit names as defendants the limited partnership that produced “Paradise Square,” a musical set amid New York City’s Civil War racial strife, as well as Bernard Abrams, a producer who is a member of the Broadway League.
However, the show is most closely associated with the producer Garth H. Drabinsky, who was successful as a theater impresario in the 1990s until he was charged with misconduct and fraud in the United States and in his native Canada, where he eventually served a prison sentence.
Drabinsky had hoped that “Paradise Square,” which ran at the Ethel Barrymore Theater from mid-March to 17 July, would be his comeback. The show originated ten years ago as a musical called ‘Hard Times’ written by Larry Kirwan of the band Black 47 and drawing on the music of Stephen Foster, who performed ‘Oh! Susanna” among other American standards. Delayed two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, it made its way to Broadway after out-of-town productions in Berkeley, California and Chicago. The show received 10 Tony nominations, but only took home one award, for actress Joaquina Kalukango, whose performance was a feature of this year’s Tony Awards ceremony. The show struggled at the box office throughout its run and failed to get back the $15 million it was capitalized for.
Richard Roth, an attorney for the “Paradise Square” partnership, said Monday, “I understand everyone will be paid in full.”
Abrams did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
Through Roth — pointing out that Drabinsky is not a member of the limited partnership — Drabinsky released a lengthy statement arguing that Covid had proved an insurmountable roadblock to the show’s sales and finances. He added that bonds worth nearly $450,000 raised by the producers should cover most of what the actors owed.
“Equity holds this bond security,” Drabinsky said, and “the lawsuits filed by unions are simply to prove the collection of amounts that the partnership has previously agreed to. In this regard, I have never been a signatory to the production, nor do I have any authority regarding the signing of banking instruments. Any delay in distributions was simply a function of available cash flow.”
The Hollywood Reporter first reported the existence of the legal filing on Monday.
The unions representing actors and designers who appeared in or worked on the musical have also received arbitration awards amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In July, the local United Scenic Artists’ also went to federal court to seek confirmation and enforcement of the award. In the spring, the managers of the Actors’ Equity fund went to court to enforce an arbitral award.
The unions have also put Drabinsky on their “don’t work” lists. The union of directors and choreographers automatically placed the producers on a similar list until the outstanding arbitration fee is paid, a union official said.
The president of the local union of the American Federation of Musicians, Tino Gagliardi, said through a spokesman that “Local 802 and the musicians’ benefit funds are taking all legal action necessary to recover the wages and benefits owed to the musicians.” progress.”
Al Vincent Jr., Equity’s executive director, added in an email statement that the dispute was not over, saying: “Our process to get our members properly paid for ‘Paradise Square’ continues with a number of outstanding grievances going to arbitration.”
Local 829, the stage performers’ union, put Drabinsky on its “boycott” list because of “constant passivity and lack of communication about the significant payments and benefits,” said Carl Mulert, the locals’ national business agent. “It is unfortunate that the legacy of this Broadway production, which includes the indelible contributions of our colleagues and relatives on and off the stage, has been marred by a tale of exploitation and injustice for the many performers who brought ‘Paradise Square’. to life.”