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Musicians to Protest at Tonys Without Giant Rat

The Broadway stagehands' union will not picket the Tony Awards' red carpet after coming to an accord Friday morning with the managers of the ceremony. Tony producers had planned to use nonunion workers to set up the tent and red carpet this Sunday, to which Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees responded by threatening to protest with 400 union members and a giant inflatable rat. The union will now work the red carpet for this year's and for future Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre thanks to this morning's agreement, according to The New York Times.

Had the union protested, rat and all, members of the union Actors' Equity would have had to choose whether or not to support Local 1 by skipping the red carpet. Representatives from Tony Award Productions and Local 1 have not named what concessions were negotiated.

While Tony managers dodged a picket line, they will still endure another protest Sunday night. Broadway musicians will perform outside the ceremony from 6 - 7:30 pm to object to Broadway producers replacing live music with taped recordings during productions. A group of Broadway composers, lyricists, musicians, performers and professionals from the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera and The Julliard School have joined with the non-profit Council for Living Music to keep Broadway's music live. In late March, this group launched a campaign against the Tony-nominated  "Priscilla Queen of the Desert," criticizing the show for using a canned soundtrack to reduce the number of live musicians. 

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I could understand a tiny non-profit theatre not using musicians, but part of the excitement of seeing a live show is hearing the orchestra tuning up and the thrill of the first swells of the overture. I come from a family of musicians and I'm a stage performer. I'm with the musicians on this one, friends. (I would've been with the stagehands, too, if they hadn't reached an accord.)

Anyone who objects to the promotion of non-talent, which takes valuable acting roles from talented performers should join this protest and bring inflatable rats of their own to protest the worst "performer" of 35 years, Brooke No Talent Shields, hosting the Tonys and being given a role in "The Addams Family." Broadway is turning into a joke if models talking in monotones are now cast in lead roles. Why not just go the whole nine yards and cast robots or computer generated actors in everything?

As a live entertainment veteran of 30+ years I would love to see the union crushed. I am so sick of the fat, doughnut sucking rats that i would love to see them removed. Sadly, here in LA I have to pay my dues and shake my head as all the Union heads make money as they do nothing. Unions are good for two things, taking your money and tending to the sheep. IATSE is worthless.

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