There was as much drama behind the scenes at the Mechanic Theatre last night as there was on stage.
As patrons were settling into their seats for the musical 42nd Street, they didn't know a strike by box-office employees was threatening to cancel the 8 p.m. show - and the remaining four weekend performances as well.
Box office staffers, working without a contract since 1999, had not had a wage increase since 1998. On Tuesday, they went on strike, and stagehands, who belong to the same union, refused to cross the picket line.
Yesterday afternoon, the Council of Actors Equity, the actors' union, called upon its members to honor the strike.
A tentative contract was reached at 7:30 p.m. between the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Clear Channel Entertainment, which manages the Mechanic. That let the show go on, albeit about a half-hour late, with minimal costume changes. "We are pleased to reach an agreement that ... serves the best interests of our patrons," said David Anderson, president of Clear Channel's theater management division.
Complete sets and costumes were expected to be restored for the weekend performances.
"We feel that all the issues were resolved to our satisfaction," said Tom McErlean, lawyer for the employees' union.