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February 25, 2022IM -
Members of Local 72-147 (Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX) held an informational leafleting on February 11, before the 8 p.m. performance of Casa Mañana’s production of Matilda: the Musical.
Casa Mañana Theatre is in the hot seat for replacing musicians with prerecorded tracks for the mainstage production of Matilda, a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the theater and Local 72-147. The union has filed an Unfair Labor Practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.
Matilda was originally scheduled for spring 2020 as part of the company’s Children’s Theater Series, which does not require live music under a union contract. In December 2021, the union was informed that the rescheduled show had been integrated into the Casa Mañana Broadway Series, but without live music—a violation of the CBA which requires the hiring of local musicians for the company’s Broadway shows. Local 72-147 (Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX) President Stewart Williams says, “There’s great disappointment in the management for doing this, and a sense of betrayal of the musicians and of the artistic integrity of the company. There’s a great deal of emotion at a time when musicians are out of work.
“Audiences have been kept away from live musical theater due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was Casa Mañana’s opportunity to begin anew by honoring its contract with its musicians and its artistic obligations to its audiences. It’s a shame that Casa Mañana has chosen this path,” Williams adds.
Once news broke that Matilda was in violation of an AFM contract, other unions voiced concern. Casa Mañana was also in violation with the Actors’ Equity Association and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.
A youth show is not allowed to run more than two hours, including the 30 minutes before curtain when the actors arrive. The full-length version of Matilda: The Musical at Casa Mañana ran at about 2 1/2 hours, plus the 30-minute call time beforehand. According to Jeremy Dumont, the show’s director and choreographer, it means that the AEA contracts Casa Mañana was using did not match the work being done, and Equity actors were not being paid appropriately.
Local 72-147 member Elaine Davidson called out the theater, saying “There was a long history of live orchestras at this theater, over 60 years’ worth, but Casa Mañana is choosing to break this tradition by not hiring musicians for a musical, even though they’re under contract to do so.” She adds, “By contract, I should have been one of 11 local musicians in the orchestra pit, but instead, a recording will be played during this show. Shame on Casa Mañana for not abiding by a signed Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
Tickets to the show cost as much as $135, but the theater failed to mention in promotions that no live musicians would be accompanying the main-stage musical. The show ran from February 4-13.