Possible actor strike could slash Hamilton shows in Richmond

The curtain could close early for the Broadway tour of “Hamilton” in Richmond due to a potential strike.
Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 6:35 PM EDT
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Note: Since this story first aired, the two sides reached a tentative deal to avoid a strike.

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The curtain could close early for the Broadway tour of “Hamilton” in Richmond due to a potential strike.

At Altria Theater Tuesday, several Hamilton cast and crew members passed out leaflets before the opening night performance, explaining to theater-goers that a strike could be on the horizon.

The “Actors Equity Association” is a union that represents these actors and stage managers. The union is demanding fair pay from The Broadway League.

Right now, many Broadway performers and stage managers say they have to dip into their own savings to pay for the basics on tour.

If the two organizations cannot reach a deal, 97% of the actors on tour will go on strike.

This would likely slash several Hamilton shows in Richmond set to take the stage over the next two weeks.

“We want to bring you these shows. It’s our passion. It’s our love. But the fact that we’re so up in arms means that it’s a really bad scenario,” Les Mis Cast Member and Actor Steve Czarnecki said. “People who love their work are willing to walk out from it. We’re putting a lot on the line.”

Czarnecki is one of nearly 50,000 people in the theater industry represented by the Actors Equity Association.

He says, under the current per diem rates, they barely get paid enough to afford housing, food and other expenses on tour.

“The amount of money you’re given to cover your housing is sort of embarrassing,” Czarnecki said. “We’re given ‘X’ amount of money for food, and then the rest of it is for housing, and that comes to about $84 a night.”

That’s just one reason The Broadway League and the Actors Equity Association are currently negotiating a new touring contract.

Czarnecki says they also want a salary raise that reflects the current economy that has been jostled by inflation.

“We want to be treated with a little more dignity than we are right now,” Czarnecki said. “It’s just a really difficult, challenging lifestyle. You leave behind a lot at home. "

What does it mean for Hamilton ticketholders in Richmond?

Broadway in Richmond provided this statement to NBC12:

“We understand that the Broadway League and Actors’ Equity have been negotiating terms for a new agreement for actors involved in League/Equity touring productions. Additional bargaining dates are scheduled for this week, and we are hopeful that a deal can be reached between the parties.”

Czarnecki says nearly 700 actors will go on strike if that doesn’t happen.

“We’ve been in negotiations yesterday all day, and they went until 11:30 or so last night. They’re in negotiations now,” Czarnecki said. “If they’re not going to move on the issues and offer fair solutions to them, then we’ll do what we have to do.”

NBC12 asked about potential ticket refunds if shows are canceled, but the spokesperson said they had no additional information to provide.

If you want to get involved, Czarnecki says they encourage people to sign the Audience Support Letter on the union’s website.