The Playgoer: Dissed by Disney

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Dissed by Disney

Michael Riedel follows up on more troubles over at Mary Poppins. (This week: the set won't work.)

But more interesting than the backstage gossip is the backstory of the continuing tension between Disney and Old Broadway (in the sense of "Old Europe"). In particular, Disney has not gotten over the slight of the shunning of Tarzan at the Tonys. (Because obviously the quality of the show is beyond question.) And just to make things even more 8th Grade...

If "Mary Poppins" takes off - not a sure a thing yet, even though it has the largest advance ($18 million) of any show this season - the black eye from "Tarzan" will fade, and Disney can reclaim its place as Broadway's pre-eminent creator of mega-hits. But don't expect it to make nicey-nice with the theater community. In fact, the company isn't even throwing an opening-night party for "Mary Poppins." There will be a lavish dinner for the cast, but all those Broadway snipers will have to buy their own dinners after the performance.

I'm surprised, though, that Riedel doesn't mention one big things Disney did to get The Establishment pissed at them: They refused to join the American League of Theaters and Producers--specifically its bargainning unit. In other words, Disney corporate HQ made clear from the start it would deal with unions its own way. And that wasn't a help to the League during times like the Musicians Strike of '03.

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