Equity has claimed there is a “little bit of light” for cast members owed thousands of pounds by producers of postponed musical Street of Dreams.
The union, speaking publicly for the first time since it was announced that the Coronation Street musical had postponed all future dates following its premiere in Manchester in May, said recent conversations about members’ pay with the show’s producer – Reckless Entertainment – had “become quite constructive”.
However, it refused to rule out the possibility of legal action to recoup money owed to its members, should the conversations fail to find a solution.
Paul Fleming, an organiser in the union’s live performance department, told The Stage: “Since Manchester, where the tour was postponed, we have been in a conversation around outstanding sums of monies that are owed to them [actors, stage managers and members of the creative team]. That conversation has encompassed a whole range of parties, principally the investors, ITV and the producers. It’s been a chaotic few weeks, which at some points has been more fruitful than others, but where we are at the minute is those conversations have become quite constructive and we are trying to work out a realistic way of recouping our members’ money.”
He added: “We are also ensuring that the production itself has the viability to provide members work in the future, which is phenomenally important to us. At the minute there is a little bit of light.”
Fleming said he had met producers John and Trisha Ward from Reckless Entertainment last week. Following this, he said he was “confident that discussions have started to make it a realistic possibility” that the 30-plus union members involved in the show will be paid.
But Fleming added that, while various deadlines had been set throughout the conversations, he did not know “when the end point is going to be”.
He said Equity would always consider legal action where its members are owed money, and added: “In this case, it will remain on the table until that money has been paid. I am categorically not ruling that out, but I think there are more constructive ways of getting a result.”
Fleming said he had met Equity members involved in the show last week and they had indicated they are “prepared to go down the most constructive route” to get the remainder of the wages they are owed.
The Equity official added that actors had not initially been employed on the musical on union-agreed contracts, which had made it harder to “have a conversation when things, as they will do from time to time, go wrong”. He said that when the show is remounted, the union would seek to have Equity contracts for any future engagements on it.
Street of Dreams, starring Paul O’Grady, opened in Manchester on May 9 and 10. However, after the run, producer John Ward wrote to those involved to say he was not “happy with the show artistically” and that he did not want to take it out again in its “present form”.
Following this, the show’s composer, Trisha Ward, told The Stage the show had been postponed after its lead, Katy Cavanagh, pulled out. She said this had given Reckless Entertainment an opportunity to “rework the script and get it back to what it should be”. She stressed the production would go ahead in the future.
Speaking to The Stage, John Ward said Reckless Entertainment had been “working closely with Equity” and disputed Fleming’s claim there was only a “little bit of light” regarding pay.
He added: “The cast will be paid as soon as possible. It’s something everyone has been working hard towards and it will be achieved.”