Musical comedy place of paradise will end its run on Broadway on Sunday, but the production – which marked a return to Broadway for producer Garth H. Drabinsky after he was jailed for fraud – will live in court as it faces a growing number of legal challenges over unpaid wages and other payment disputes for workers already affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Two unions, United Scenic Artists and Actors Equity, which represent the production’s designers and performers respectively, filed suits against the production and producer Bernard Adams this month, the Hollywood journalist first reported Tuesday, alleging unpaid wages and benefits.
United Performing Artists court casefiled in federal court, argues that the production owes $156,965.85 in unpaid wages and benefits, which an arbitrator had awarded to the union, but he alleges that the production was never actually paid.
Equity first actors for follow-up the show in May seeking $174,091.32 for unpaid benefit contributions, later reaching a settlement agreement for $412,807, but has now filed a separate lawsuit in state court for $189,877 after that the production has stopped making payments as required by the settlement, according to the Journalist.
The Actors Equity lawsuit comes after the union previously ordered performers to sit out rehearsal in February for one day, which the Journalist and New York Post report was due to a contractual dispute over payments.
A former group salesperson for the show for follow-up the May production in state court for $9,000 in unpaid wages; this dispute remains unresolved, although production has moved to dismiss the revendications.
No more lawsuits. According to Journalistthe show’s other contractors are still negotiating payments with the production and could still take legal action.
Drabinsky is the lead producer on place of paradise after portion a 17-month prison term, plus parole, in Canada. He was convicted in 2009 of defrauding investors of more than $400 million through his production company, which was behind a number of 1990s Broadway hits like Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ragtime. Drabinsky and his producing partner kept multiple sets of accounting books, misrepresenting the company’s profits, and using fake invoices to route the money directly to their bank accounts, the case’s lawsuit discoveredand he was initially sentenced to a seven-year prison term. place of paradise marks Drabinsky’s premiere Broadway Credit since Pit in 1999. The producer is not, however, directly involved in the litigation which was brought against the series, which instead named as defendants the production companies created to manage the finances of the series and Adams, who is listed as the chief of these companies instead of Drabinsky. (Drabinsky was banned engage in certain business activities in Canada.)
“Producers have known for months that they owe the designers and assistant designers who built the world of place of paradise thousands and thousands of unpaid wages and payroll taxes,” said Carl Mulert, national sales agent for United Scenic Artists’ Local USA 829, at Journalist. “Now that production is wrapping up, who’s stiff? Our members.
A spokesperson for place of paradise declined to comment Forbes on the litigation against him or on the allegations of unpaid wages. In a statement to Job in February about Actors Equity asking artists not to go to rehearsals, production general manager Jeffrey Chrzczon said the production was “fully bonded…and no wages were missed during nine years of [Paradise Square’s] development.” The general manager added, “Many Paradise Square actors have worked with Mr. Drabinsky on previous productions.”
place of paradise also raised eyebrows financially for increasing its capitalization from $13.5 million to $15 million weeks after the show had already started its Broadway performances, Forbes previously reported in May, which means it has attempted to raise even more money from investors than it had originally anticipated. The move was apparently unprecedented for a Broadway show – which typically raises all its money on opening night – and raised more questions about the show’s financial health.
place of paradise is a new musical focusing on Irish-Black American relations in Civil War-era New York City, which opened on Broadway in April. Although the show garnered 10 Tony Award nominations and a win for lead actress Joaquina Kalukango, which drew attention to her performance during the award ceremony, the show announcement on Monday it would close less than a week later. The closing notice follows months of disappointing sales for the production, which likely led to the show’s financial troubles. The show earned just $266,926 at the box office for the week ending July 10 and played to half-empty theaters on average, according at the Broadway League, and has failed to do even $500,000 at the box office in a week, well below what is needed for expensive music productions to recoup their costs. The pay disputes also come after workers on Broadway already suffered more than a year of financial hardship as Broadway remained closed during the Covid-19 pandemic from March 2020 until the fall of 2021, leaving thousands unemployed.
New filing suggests shortcut to investing in Tony-nominated show (Forbes)
‘Paradise Square’ will close on Broadway after winning a Tony (New York Times)