As BroadwayWorld previously reported, Actors' Equity will place Paradise Square producer Garth Drabinsky on the company's Do Not Work list due to "outstanding payments and benefits, and a continued pattern of abuse and neglect that created an unsafe and toxic work environment."
In a letter obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, company members from the production spoke out against Drabinsky, prompting the union to take action against the producer.
The letter reads:
"Members of Actors' Equity National Council,
Since work on Paradise Square began in Chicago in the fall of 2021, there has been one person making all executive decisions surrounding the production. This person is not the producer of record, but it is well known that they are in full control and therefore no action can be taken against them. They have withheld benefits and pay from many company members, and have created an unsafe, toxic, and frequently hostile work environment. When presented with these concerns from the company, this person has continually been dismissive, defensive, and often abusive.
As has been said about this person, 'every day there is a new way to disrespect someone,' and today is no different. We did not receive our final payment in the form of direct deposit, and with this producer's history of dereliction of payments, this is a massive concern.
Therefore, due to outstanding payments and benefits, and a continued pattern of abuse and neglect that created an unsafe and toxic work environment, the company of "Paradise Square" call for Garth H. Drabinsky to be placed on the Actors' Equity Do Not Work list, effective July 18th, 2022.
-Company members of "Paradise Square"
We truly loved bringing this show to the audiences in New York City, but we should never have had to endure the circumstances that we did to do so, and no one should ever again."
The move to add Drabinsky, who was imprisoned for 17 months in Canada after being convicted of fraud and forgery as a producer, to the Do Not Work list comes after the production failed to pay their salary via weekly direct deposit on Thursday morning.
"The company of Paradise Square has expressed their commitment to this show and want to continue to tell this story through its planned closing on July 17. However, Garth Drabinsky has made it clear that he is unable to uphold the terms of a union contract, so Equity intends to add him to our Do Not Work list immediately afterwards..." said Equity.
Company members were told physical checks would be made available at the theatre Thursday evening instead of a direct deposit, following a meeting with the union Thursday afternoon. Actors' Equity members received a deposit Thursday evening, and other members of the production will receive paper checks.
The production originally intended to use the bond heald with Actors' Equity in the event of a default by a producer for this week's deposits, but this was not allowed, and a co-producer reportedly funded the checks.
As previously reported, Actors' Equity and United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829 are taking Paradise Square to court for $350,000 in owed benefit contributions, wages and other fees, and this week's salary issues are in addition to that ongoing litigation.
Paradise Square failed to keep up with a payment schedule set up as part of a settlement agreement with Actors' Equity in May, and the Equity is now separately seeking $189,877 in unpaid union dues and benefit fund contributions and interest.
This story is developing.