By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Stagehands go on strike, shut down Broadway shows
Placeholder Image
NEW YORK (AP) — Broadway stagehands went on strike Saturday, shutting down more than two dozen plays and musicals on what is the most popular theatergoing day of the week.
Picket lines went up at theaters throughout the Times Square area. The first show to be affected was “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical,” a holiday attraction for families that had an early 11 a.m. matinee.
Rudy Ross, who portrays Max the dog in the show, greeted disappointed ticket-holders outside the St. James Theatre, urging them to come back when performances resume. “This is the stage door,” he said and pointed. “Knock here and come and say hi to me.”
The Leo Deonarine family of Valley Stream, N.Y., had spent about $400 for their five tickets. Five-year-old Alyssa beamed as she clutched cotton candy and other sweets handed out by ushers who also distributed flyers about getting refunds.
“Maybe we’ll go to a different movie,” Alyssa said.
“Honey, it’s a live show,” Ross responded.
A spokesman for Local One, the stagehands union, declined comment on the work stoppage.
“It is a sad day for Broadway, but we must remain committed to achieving a fair contract,” said Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the League of American Theatres and Producers. “Our goal is simple: to pay for workers we need and for work that is actually performed.”
Martin said anyone who has purchased tickets to shows affected by the walkout would be able to get exchanges or refunds.
The League and Local One have been in negotiations for more than three months, wrangling over work rules and staffing requirements, particularly requirements governing the expensive process of setting up a show.
Local One, which has been working without a contract since the end of July, was told Friday by its parent union, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, to begin the walkout on Saturday.
Eight Broadway shows will not be affected by the strike, as they are playing in theaters with separate Local One contracts. They are “Young Frankenstein,” ‘’Mary Poppins,” ‘’Xanadu,” ‘’The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” ‘’Mauritius,” ‘’Pygmalion,” ‘’The Ritz” and “Cymbeline.” Off-Broadway shows will also keep running.
But among the shows shut by the walkout are such popular attractions as “Wicked,” ‘’The Phantom of the Opera,” ‘’Rent,” ‘’Les Miserables,” ‘’Monty Python’s Spamalot” and “Mamma Mia!”
On Thursday, after two days of contentious negotiations, the local got its parent union’s permission to strike.

Owner of popular Athens restaurant falls to his death

ATHENS — The owner of a popular vegetarian restaurant in Athens fell to his death from a downtown parking deck Friday morning.
Ted Hafer, 42, owner of The Grit, was pronounced dead at Athens Regional Medical Center shortly after emergency workers arrived at the deck.
A passer-by called 911 about 10:40 a.m. to report that a man’s body was on a sidewalk on East Washington Street.
Athens-Clarke Police Chief Jack Lumpkin said an Athens Downtown Development Authority video camera captured the start of Hafer’s fall from the wall at the top of the deck, about 80 feet above street level.
A witness also looked on as Hafer started to plunge from the seven-level deck, Lumpkin said.
Investigators ruled out foul play after watching the video and talking to the witness, he said.
Police would not say whether they think Hafer jumped or accidentally fell.
Though Hafer was not one of the original founders of The Grit, which last year celebrated its 20th anniversary, he and his wife, Jessica Greene, owned it for years and in 2001 co-wrote a popular cookbook of The Grit’s vegetarian recipes.
Housed in a Prince Avenue building owned by R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe, The Grit for years has drawn health-conscious Athenians and both out-of-town and Athens musicians.
Testimonials for the cookbook were written by Stipe, Vic Chesnutt, Juliana Hatfield and Better than Ezra’s Travis McNabb, among others.
Hafer himself helped found the Athens band Porn Orchard in the 1980s.
News of Hafer’s death spread rapidly in the college town.
“There was no charity in town he ever said no to. He was a very firm supporter of this community,” said former Athens-Clarke Mayor Gwen O’Looney, a Cobbham resident who also knew Hafer.
Sign up for our e-newsletters