Fifties idol frankie avalon isn't melting hearts at the Canadian Actors Equity Association this week. He's in town to star in a non-union production of Grease, but the union claims the show is a rip-off for theatregoers. They'll pay full price for a musical that's billed as Broadway-calibre but is being put on by American performers working at nearly 60 per cent below union wages. At the same time, Equity says, local actors, already hurting because of SARS, are being left without work. "It's undercutting every single one of our legitimate shows," says Equity executive director Susan Wallace.
About 20 union members calling for a boycott showed for the "information picket" at the Hummingbird Centre Tuesday (July 15).
The Hummingbird vehemently denies Equity's claims.
"Our production isn't putting anyone out of business," says director of programming Mark Hammond, who notes that Grease will only be in town for a week.
Hammond says the Centre has a good relationship with its unionized employees, and that the issue is between Equity and Phoenix Productions, the U.S. company that's mounting the show, but Phoenix did not return NOW's calls this week.