Broadway lights will continue to shine.
Two weeks after its contract expired, the union representing stage actors reached a tentative agreement Monday with theater producers, ending a period of uncertainty as the two sides wrangled over issues of health care costs, actor safety and, most important, nonunion tours of Broadway shows.
"Actors' Equity Association and the League of American Theatres and Producers announced today they have reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year Production Contract," both sides said in a joint statement. "Leadership from both sides will be meeting tomorrow to finalize the details of the contract."
Among options union leaders could have considered was a strike, which would have shut down most Broadway plays and musicals as well as major productions on the road, including "The Producers" at the Kennedy Center. Shows have continued to run throughout the negotiations.
Equity has been particularly upset by nonunion tours, which have increased over the past several years.
The union's contract with the League of Broadway Producers expired June 27, and the two sides have met since then to resolve not only the issue of nonunion tours but also questions about soaring health care costs and worker safety.
The League offered to table discussion of nonunion tours until later, an idea rejected by Equity.
"Separating the issues is not a wise decision," Patrick Quinn, the union's president, told the AP Sunday. "It's up to [the producers] to face the fact that we have to stop trying to balance the books on the backs of the actors."
In March 2003, more than a dozen Broadway musicals shut down for four days after the musicians' union walked out, resulting in lost theater revenue of more than $5 million.