There are problems in River City.
In preparing for the opening of the new production of The music man on Broadway, the producers were sued in New York State court for recasting four singers on the show. The plaintiffs, who are members of an award-winning quartet of hair salons named “Category Four”, claim the producers breached their employment contracts and seek more than half a million dollars in damages.
“It’s men versus music. The music man“commented their lawyer.
According to the lawsuit, the producers and creative team went in search of Clay Hine, David Calland, Kirk Young and Tim Reynolds, “because they were looking for an authentic barbershop quartet, not four singers who would simply be chosen as a quartet”. They invited the band to audition after viewing their videos online, then had each artist sign a small memorandum summarizing the key points of their employment contract.
The documents stated that the first rehearsal would take place on October 25, 2021, the first preview performance would take place on December 20, 2021, and the performers’ final performance would be on the date which is “1 year from the first preview “. Each actor would be paid $2,323 during each week of rehearsals and performances, along with a press fee of $58.08 and an $80 “1 Year Rider”.
Further, the fine print on the forms stated that “the parties agree that they intend to enter into a longer production contract in connection with the Broadway production…which will be negotiated in good faith and incorporate all provisions of this [form], without any modification, except for grammatical reasons. Until then, each memorandum of understanding would be “valid and binding between the parties”.
Eager to bow out on Broadway, the four singers “(i) quit, changed, or took time off from their jobs; (ii) either sold their home or did not renew their lease (with one exception); and (iii) with the assistance/encouragement of [the producers] …, sought accommodation in New York for the 14 months they would rehearse and perform The music man on Broadway,” their attorney said in the lawsuit.
But, on June 17, 2021, the general manager of the $17 million musical informed them that “the artistic changes in the show are moving in a different direction, and we won’t be needing your services.”
“When production was reset and reconfirmed, post-COVID shutdown, in June 2021, the thinking had changed and the producers decided there was a need to cast professional actors,” a company spokesperson explained. musical comedy. “While we understand the disappointment, the decision to recast was consistent with the parties’ contractual terms and was in the best interests of the show,” the spokesperson continued.
The producers offered each member of the barbershop quartet $10,000 to sign termination agreements and leave the show. But, the performers declined the haircut offer.
The general manager then sent longer production contracts to the Actors’ Equity Association and asked the actors to sign and return them within 72 hours.
But, the performers’ lawyer argued that the new agreements “omit and blatantly contradict the terms of [the deal memoranda] which shall be contractually incorporated therein by reference. The lawyer prepared a list of all the changes to be made to the agreements and sent it to the producers.
However, a day later, the producers responded that since the performers refused to sign the longer deals, their employment contracts were now terminated.