Kinky BOO!-ts & BOO!-sies: The Future of Touring

KinkyBoosies

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse — except for THE MOUSE, who found the impending Holiday an opportune time to post an audition notice on ActorsEquity.org for the First National Tour of Disney’s Newsies, a bonafide Broadway hit that holds the esteemed acclaim of being the fastest Disney production to turn a profit. This notice came on the heels of the one posted for the First National Tour of Kinky Boots, the Broadway smash hit that recouped its investment two months faster than The Book of Mormon. BOOM! BROADWAY IS BACK! And we’re taking it on the road!

What an exciting moment for our industry, right? We’re about to enter a new year full of wonderful possibilities, and in that new year, we’re going to #werk those knickers and boots all over the country while making it rain at our weekly open bar parties — wait, what? Kinky Boots and Newsies are going out on TIERED contracts? Um. Hold on a second…

[[PUTS DOWN COMPUTER. WALKS TO EGGNOG BOWL. MAKES SEVERAL BAD DECISIONS. RETURNS TO COMPUTER.]]

Perhaps The Powers That Be thought that between Christmas and a nineteen-show-weekend, everyone would be too distracted to notice that Kinky Boots and Newsies aren’t going out on a Full Production Contract. Well, I may or may not be Jewish, but I definitely have a lot of time on my hands, so naturally I noticed.

Let’s discuss the good news about this situation: NO SETA. The bad news? EVERYTHING ELSE. I realize that a Tier C and Tier D Production Contract salary is nothing to scoff at. What I’m suggesting is that we look at the bigger picture. This isn’t so much about the Newsies and Kinky Boots touring companies making between $37,000 and $43,000 less per a year than their Broadway conterparts. It’s about what those two shows represent in this industry. They represent success. They have proven, and highly publicized the fact, that they break records in making money. They are the top. If they aren’t paying their actors accordingly, how will that affect every other touring and regional contract below them?

If presenters can’t afford to pay the guarantee a producer needs to do a show on a full Production Contract, then maybe we should stop playing Scranton.

This moment, right now, will have a huge influence on our future as actors. Letting producers think it is OK to tier two of the most profitable productions of the last three years will only make them think it’s OK to do it with everything else. It’s time for us to step up.

“We are thrilled that Broadway audiences have embraced the show as they have. It’s a testament to the power of this story of young people uniting to fight for what’s right.” – Thomas Schumacher, President of Disney Theatrical Group

13 comments

  1. Kenjay

    Please read the Production Contract Rulebook:
    Tiered tours participate in overage.
    The tier contract stipulates housing caps.

  2. Nathan F

    To me this says more about Actor’s Equity than the producers of said shows. Equity started giving away our salaries and benefits several years ago as they sat back and said “But it’s an Equity contract!” Meanwhile I was making less on tour of major musicals as a Stage Manager than I was in 1995 on a Cabaret contract in a 200 seat room in Vegas when I joined! I have since resigned Equity since I haven’t had a contract or ANY benefits in over 3 years and they continued to take my dues and wouldn’t allow my to go Fi-Core when I had the chance to work a non-Equity show. Hopefully I will get another contract and rejoin, not because I’m a “proud member” but because I love working in the theatre, but until then there is no advantage to me being an AEA member.

      • L Livingston

        Totally agree! I went on temporary withdrawal, and then went to audition and was told I was going to have to wait behind everyone including all the non-equity. Wait–what? I can’t do nonequity work, but after years and years of paying dues and the hefty initiation fee I have to wait behind nonequity?! Seriously? I am equity for work but not for auditions? AND this comes on the heels of writing equity for over EIGHT years about some other kind of agreement so far away from Los Angeles, the nearest city. And I have not yet been given the decency of so much as ONE reply! Think I am done too. I feel like I am on the bottom rung of a ponzi scheme.

  3. Kelliott

    I have to speak up and point out one tiny little irksome point…you infer that SETA would be a worse decision than the Tiered Contract. I could not disagree more. I am currently touring on a SETA contract with Sister Act. No, I do not make even 1/2 (adjusted for inflation) of what I used to make when I toured on a full production contract 10 years ago BUT…and this is a huge BUUUTTTTT… on SETA the producer must provide housing AND, more important, there is a possibility for profit participation. This is HUGE (not so much for Sister Act) but for a show like Newsies or Kinky Boots (maybe) this is big. On a tiered Production Contract, your salary (including rider) is the best you can do – end of story. The SET agreement does not pay much in salary unless you can negotiate overscale and now that producers are using favored nations clauses left and right these that’s touch(actors…its all about the rider!!!!!!) but if your show sells well, you participate in a percentage of the producers’ profit and that can be a nice, fat, ca-ching! (ask the Les Miz cast). And, as if that isn’t enough, for these folks on a tiered contract they will be using most, if not all of their per-diem to pay for their housing and sometimes, if not often, depending on the city, will have to share a room. Touring ain’t what it used to be, but what is; the legal industry – nope, wall street – nope, real-estate…not in NYC. But in my humble opinion the tiered production contract (as it stands) sucks the last life out of an ailing industry.

  4. Randy Donaldson

    Shouting from behind your computer or handheld device means absolutely nothing. If you are so upsets out this get off of your butts. Get on the production contract negotiating commitee

    • Katie

      Randy, getting the word out IS a step toward “doing something.” If I hadn’t stumbled across this article, I wouldn’t have known there was something that needed to be “done.” I appreciate the person who took the time to organize this information and share it with our community of performers. United we stand, divided… we work tier. 🙂

  5. Josh Lamon

    I am disgusted by the amount of greed these producers are showing. I am disgusted with the SHAM that our union is. I have emailed my family. None of them will be buying tickets to these shows in their town. What is the point of remaining in a union if they will eventually force us all out of one.

  6. Michael Mosher

    i’ve stopped seeing touring shows almost completely. Non union/non Equity shows are often awful… and producers are charging Broadway prices. If I have to sit through substandard entertainment, I want to pay less. There are enough regional theaters who do a good job here in Southern California that I don’t need to see crappy theater at inflated prices..

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