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Home » Music Business » Musicians Return to the Pit as Touring Shows Reopen

Musicians Return to the Pit as Touring Shows Reopen

  -  Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division Director

by Tino Gagliardi, AFM Director of Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division

It’s been a long time coming, but after 18 months, Broadway’s touring shows have finally reopened. Officially, the pandemic has not been declared “over,” but touring musicians, on-location musicians, stagehands, and production crews are returning to work.

In 2020, 23 AFM-covered touring productions were suspended because of the pandemic. The Federation negotiated a shutdown agreement with the Broadway League that provided for cancellation payments and necessary expenses for musicians.

In July, when the Federation negotiated agreements with the Broadway League and Disney Theatrical Productions for an extension to the Pamphlet B Touring Theatrical Musicals and Short Engagement Touring (SET) Agreements, a comprehensive Safety Manual was included. It contains protocols and lists the precautions necessary to prevent the spread of COVID and to protect musicians and staff, especially on tour. The Federation is part of a worldwide playbook for eliminating the risk of COVID transmission, and we are committed to safely reconnecting with live audiences. (The Theatrical Touring Health & Safety Manual can be found on the website at:

Key provisions of the Pamphlet B agreement include:

  • Improved HVAC standards and portable HEPA air filtration in orchestra pits.
  • Mandated vaccines for the musicians, actors, and crew.
  • PCR or antigen tests for COVID-19 provided at no cost to musicians.
  • Each musician will receive up to eight extra sick days for quarantine or isolation related to COVID infection or positive COVID tests.
  • Allowance for modifications to the protocols where necessary for individual shows or locations.

The Federation and the League have agreed that the prevalence and incidence of the virus and prevention efforts will be continually assessed for adequacy due to the changing nature of COVID and its variants. The Safety Manual may require adjustments to protocols based on new knowledge about the virus—and now, its variants. If changes are necessary, they may occur with prior notice and negotiations between the League and the Federation, and if needed, on an individual show or location basis.

Regional theaters across the country are eagerly awaiting Broadway tours to resume. League producers restarted touring musical productions in August with Wicked in Dallas, Texas. (Current touring Broadway shows listed at right).

The Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division has also been busy working with our colleagues from other arts and entertainment unions to safely ease restrictions on cross-border immigration for our Canadian members. (See article on page 13.)

Staying Vigilant Moving Forward

Now, as performance venues are planning for full-capacity productions and everyone is gradually returning to work, I’d like to reflect on the challenging atmosphere we find ourselves in as we try to bargain progressive contracts. Employers are using the uncertainty of the future to elicit economic concessions and a relaxation of work rules. Many employers are asking us to sacrifice our hard-won gains to hedge against their profits. Some employers have used the pandemic as justification to push for job elimination through replacement technology, in some cases, using our own recordings.

Musicians have been out of work for over 18 months, and we are all eager to get back to doing what we do best, entertaining our audiences. However, our performance has value. That value has not diminished from what it was pre-pandemic. We need to be proactive in creating coalitions with colleagues in other entertainment unions —­together we’re all strong!

Current Touring Broadway Shows under AFM Contract

  • Ain’t Too Proud (begins 11/8/2021)
  • Come From Away
  • Dear Evan Hansen (begins 12/14/2021)
  • Frozen
  • Hadestown
  • Hamilton (And Peggy)          
  • Hamilton (Angelica)
  • Hamilton (Eliza)
  • Hamilton (Philip)
  • Jesus Christ Superstar
  • Mean Girls
  • My Fair Lady
  • Oklahoma (begins 11/9/2021)
  • Pretty Woman
  • The Band’s Visit
  • The Lion King
  • The Prom (begins 11/2/2021)
  • Wicked

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