Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Joins Legal Action Against Paradise Square Producers Over Unpaid Wages | Playbill

Industry News Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Joins Legal Action Against Paradise Square Producers Over Unpaid Wages

The latest move follows earlier filings by Actors' Equity and United Scenic Artists.

Joshua Keith in Paradise Square Julieta Cervantes

The producers of Broadway's Paradise Square, led by Garth Drabinsky, are facing yet another legal complaint over owed money, this time earnings owed to director Moisés Kaufman, choreographer Bill T. Jones, and specialty choreographers including Garrett Coleman and Jason Oremus. Filed through theatrical union Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, the complaint seeks to recover more than $140,000 in fees.

The complaint joins similar filings from Actors' Equity and United Scenic Artists Local USA 829 and brings the total reported money owed to artists employed by the production to almost half a million dollars. The issues surrounding the production have already led to Equity placing Drabinsky on its "Do Not Work" list, effectively ending his ability to produce on Broadway and at many major theatrical venues nationwide. Canadian Actors' Equity joined the American union in prohibiting its members from working with the Toronto-based Drabinsky due to a reciprocal agreement between the two unions.

SDC's complaint shares that the union and Paradise Square producer Bernard Abrams agreed on the amount owed in May, but with the payments still outstanding, this new filing looks to enforce that agreement.

The legal drama is not the first for Drabinsky. The Tony-winning Ragtime and Show Boat producer was convicted of fraud and forgery in 2009 following the dissolution of his production company Livent. Paradise Square is Drabinsky's first Broadway outing since being granted parole and released from prison in 2014. Equity also put a stop work order on the production earlier this year following contract disputes, a move that lasted only one day.

Paradise Square, which opened April 3 and closed July 17, was directed by Kaufman, with choreography by Tony winner Jones. It takes place during the Civil War and tells the rich story of Irish immigrants and Black Americans fighting for a similar cause. Star Joaquina Kalukango won a 2022 Tony Award for her performance in the work.

A national tour is reportedly in the works, eyeing the 2023-2024 season, along with a number of international productions. It remains unclear if Drabinsky's troubles could jeopardize those plans; Actors' Equity does not have jurisdiction over any international productions.

Paradise Square was conceived by Black 47 frontman Larry Kirwan. Christina Anderson, Craig Lucas, and Kirwan penned the musical's book to a score with music by Jason Howland, lyrics by Nathan Tysen and Masi Asare, and additional music by Kirwan.

The production also has staging by Alex Sanchez; music supervision, direction, and orchestrations by Howland; scenic design by Allen Moyer; costume design by Toni-Leslie James; lighting design by Donald Holder; sound design by Jon Weston; and projection design by Wendall K. Harrington.

News of SDC's filing was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.


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