Fort Worth’s Casa Mañana clashes with unions over musical Matilda

A longtime Fort Worth theater is embroiled in a union story, with not one but three unions.

Casa Manana Theater was already in the hot seat for violating his contract with the local chapter of the American Federation of Musicians, for using pre-recorded music for Mathilde: the musical. Tickets for the show cost up to $135 per ticket, but the theater omitted from its marketing that no live musicians would accompany the main musical.

Pre-recorded music is allowed in children’s productions, but not for Equity shows on the main stage.

And this is the crux of the problem: Mathilde: the musical was originally scheduled as part of Casa’s 2020 Children’s Theater season and was scheduled to open just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March.

Now running February 4-13, 2022, it’s billed as part of the Broadway series, and this change also caused Casa to be in violation with the Actors’ Equity Association and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

“[Casa president and executive producer] Wally Jones just lied to three unions,” says Matilda director and choreographer Jeremy Dumont. “He literally cheated people with no money and unemployed musicians in the first place.”

Once the news broke Matilda was in violation with the AFM, inquiries were made regarding the unions that cover the actors and Dumont.

A children’s show, explains Dumont, is not allowed to last more than two hours, and that includes the 30 minutes before the curtain when the actors arrive.

The full version of Mathilde: the musicalthat Casa currently produces, lasts about 2.5 hours, plus the 30 minutes of call beforehand.

This meant that the AEA contracts Casa used did not match the work performed and the Equity actors were not paid appropriately.

A letter sent by Actors’ Equity to the Matilda bed:

“We are writing to inform you that we have been advised that the version of MATILDA has not been suitable for young audiences and that the performance schedule and duration of the show are in violation of the TYA agreement.

After discussing it with the producer, they agreed to place this show in their COST deal. You will receive contracts retroactive to your start dates and will be compensated for the difference due. The difference between these agreements is $259.50 per week. Any additional hours for performances will be deducted from this amount. In addition, there will be a 3.5% increase in your pension contributions.”

Dumont himself was also underpaid. He says Jones only offered him $3,200 to direct and choreograph the show this time, claiming he’s already been paid the full $4,500 for his work in 2020 (even though that show never was). play).

The all-important “mainstage” designation this time means that, with the right contract, Dumont actually owed about $6,000 difference.

Casa Mañana Marketing Director Monica Bermea and General Manager Lindsey Rushen did not respond to emails seeking comment.

“It is an unfortunate situation and I hope a solution will be found quickly,” says Vonda K. Bowling, Matildamusical director of. “Above all, though, I stand by and support all of our local artists and the unions that represent us, and I’m incredibly proud of the cast and crew who have spent and waited two years to bring this show to an audience. “

Once news of the lack of live music became known, some patrons took to social media to vent their frustration and anger. Casa Mañana then limited comments on its Matilda posts, although people are expressing their disappointment over other posts released by the theater company.

“He’s playing an instrument. Are you sure that’s okay with you?” wrote a Facebook user about the cabaret show Dylan on Dylanwhich takes place at the Reid Cabaret Theater just after Matilda closes.

“I really hope this will be a catalyst for change,” Dumont said. “Wally was hiring these artists illegally. They know they’re wrong, they don’t dispute it. They just got caught.”

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