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Columns bring about reconsideration, recrimination

I can guarantee these columns until about Sunday morning, but things can change on Monday.

Sometimes the reporting actually changes the news, as it seemed to with Paige O’Hara leaving “Menopause the Musical.”

And sometimes you don’t know you’ve stepped in a big hole until the column is published. So it is with what seemed to be all good news last week about the unlikely windfall of two shows putting 61 union orchestra musicians to work.

So, here we go again.

O’Hara, best known for voicing Belle in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” had planned to retire from “Menopause” instead of moving to its new home at Harrah’s, where it opens Tuesday.

When the show’s producers and its new hotel management saw this “in black and white,” says producer Alan Glist, they talked O’Hara into giving it at least three more months to get the rebooted title out of the gate.

“What is three months out of nine years?” O’Hara says with a laugh. She is hoping some choreography can be changed, and she is working with a trainer on an ongoing neck injury, “doing everything I can to get it stronger.”

Disney has announced a live-action “Beauty” movie with Emma Watson as Belle. “Time to start some singing lessons,” Watson wrote on Facebook.

O’Hara says her agent has already reached out with an offer to be the teacher.

Last week’s column about two new shows using orchestras created a perception that Local 369 President Frank Leone had solicited some positive coverage. It turns out a Jan. 3 general membership meeting got so ugly, some players are calling for Leone to be impeached, while the union is pursuing defamation charges against two members.

I will say flat out the column was entirely my idea, even if it was naive to think anything involving this union could be uncomplicated. Leone did mail the column out to supporters after the fact, but I don’t have any control over that.

At the risk of oversimplification, players in “ShowStoppers” at Wynn Las Vegas feel Leone gave away the store in terms of contract concessions as a trade-off for 45 weeks of work. But no show can guarantee it won’t close.

Musicians showed up en masse when they hadn’t been paid in weeks. The “ShowStoppers” orchestra is a contracted vendor, with the checks channeled through a payroll service.

“It took a few weeks to get the cash flowing smoothly,” Leone says, but the payroll problems have been corrected.

Resentment lingers. Musicians say they were asking Leone for help: “You are elected to protect us.” Instead, “What we were met with was unbelievable resistance,” one said. Leone plays the tough guy with them instead of with Steve Wynn, where the attitude is more “Don’t rock the boat, or he will pull the plug.”

We’ll see what Monday brings.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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