When you’re watching a musical at The Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall, chances are you’re not thinking about the performers’ salaries. (Or you shouldn’t be, if they’re doing their jobs.)
But they certainly are.
Earlier this week, Actors’ Equity — the union that represents thousands of theater performers — held a town-hall meeting with members to discuss low salaries on several musical tours.
As reported on the New York Times website, the confidential meeting focused on differences between two types of Equity tours: ones using full production contracts, which pay weekly minimums of $1,807, and those using Short Engagement Touring Agreements, which have weekly minimums ranging between $550 and $990.
According to the Times blog, six hit Broadway tours — including “Wicked,” which visited The Smith Center in 2002 — use the full production contracts; others (including “Evita” and “Sister Act,” which played The Smith Center last year, and “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” which is due in mid-April) employ the lower wage scale.
Two other future Smith Center attractions — “Newsies” and “Kinky Boots,” which is scheduled to launch its national tour from Las Vegas later this year — are planning “budget-conscious tours,” the Times reported, with weekly salaries between $976 and $1,091.
Equity began allowing lower-wage tours in hopes of dissuading producers from mounting cheaper non-union productions. Equity, which represents about 49,000 stage performers, will begin negotiating a new contract with producers next year.