UPDATE 5:30 p.m.: I talked with Ronald D. Eichman, the general director of Fresno Grand Opera, who confirms that the three members of Actors’ Equity who were in the production will not perform in “Show Boat.”
“They have been recast, and so the show is not impacted in any way,” Eichman said. “We have exceptional artists who will be on stage. We will not be deterred. ‘Show Boat’ will happen as scheduled.”
He would not name the three Equity actors involved.
ORIGINAL POST: There’s a new development in the ongoing strike by local musicians against Fresno Grand Opera. National leadership for the Actors’ Equity Association, the union for professional actors, voted yesterday to support the musicians union and instructed its members not to perform in “Show Boat,” which opens Friday.
Larry Gardner, president of Local 12 of the American Federation of Musicians, says it’s his understanding that three principal cast members who are members of Actors’ Equity have left the show.
Because of the nature of “Show Boat,” which is in a gray area between musical theater and opera, performers come from both worlds. Opera singers aren’t usually members of Actors’ Equity. In addition, the cast of 29 includes a large ensemble of local performers who aren’t union members.
Gardner said that members of the musicians union picketed Fresno Grand Opera’s load-in of “Show Boat” at the Saroyan Theatre Sunday morning. He said the musicians were joined by members of the stagehands union in solidarity. I’ve been checking in with the stagehands local about its plans for this weekend’s performances, but they haven’t yet released an official statement. My educated guess is that because the stagehands work for SMG, which runs the Saroyan Theatre, and not Fresno Grand Opera, that the stagehands will staff the performances.