The Playgoer: B'way Outsourcing the Shop?

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

B'way Outsourcing the Shop?

Little nugget of interest buried in Patrick Healy's front page Times article yesterday on the downsizing of Broadway musicals:

For another major revival of his this season, “Dreamgirls,” which played at the Apollo Theater in the fall and is now on a national tour, [director Robert] Longbottom said he had the financial advantage of collaborating with producers in South Korea, where the show was created at a fraction of the expense of a New York production, which he estimated would have needed $14 million. (He attributed the difference largely to lower-cost construction and costume materials, and to the less expensive labor in South Korea.) “The costumes alone were $700,000 in Korea and would have been $3 million in New York,” he said. “And the quality is brilliant — it’s not done in sweatshops over there."
I can just imagine some Broadway bigwig spit-taking his or her latte yesterday morning upon reading that.

Or has Broadway already been doing this?  The Appollo "Dreamgirls," as you can see, was not quite a Broadway production, I believe, subject to all the same contracts, etc.  

Are there union contracts protecting, say, the Broadway costume shops where clothes are made?  Ditto scene shops?  Cuz if not....well hello foreign labor markets, "sweatshops" or not.

PS Decent article overall, though hardly news.  And the use of Billy Elliot as the teaser and lead front page photo is really misleading.  Yes, there's one scene with just the boy and the chair--but there's also a huge winding staircase that keeps shooting up out of the floor!  Ian McNeil is no minimalist.

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