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Broadway Actors and Crews Support Casting Directors Union

Join Broadway actors in viral social media campaign #FairnessForCasting

Union promises escalating pressure in approach to Tony Awards

Liam Neeson supports casting directors

Famous actors and Broadway casts are throwing their support behind Broadway’s casting directors, and calling on the Broadway League – the producers’ association – to negotiate with the casting director’s union. Casting directors are the only workers on Broadway without a union contract, so they do not get healthcare or retirement plans from the shows they work on. Casting directors are joining Teamsters Local 817, which already represents film and television casting directors.

Broadway casts and actors, including Liam Neeson and actors from popular shows like Book of Mormon and Indecent, posted photos of themselves holding signs reading “I Support Casting Directors” on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Indecent cast members posted their photo alongside the message, “We wouldn’t be here without them! We support #FairnessForCasting.”

“It is wonderful to have the support of our colleagues in the Broadway community,” said Will Cantler,​ a Broadway casting director for plays including Present Laughter, Hand To God, and All The Way. “Our support is growing on Broadway, and the producers won’t be able to ignore it.”

Broadway casting directors joined Teamsters Local 817 in 2016, but the Broadway League refused to negotiate a union contract with them. Without a union contract, casting directors are left to find expensive health insurance on their own, or go without it. Their employers – the producers – also make no contributions toward their retirement.

“For many of my 20 years as a casting director, I’ve gone without health insurance or saving for retirement in order to work in the profession I love.  At times, my health suffered for it,” said David Caparelliotis, casting director for Tony-nominated plays A Doll’s House, Part 2 and The Glass Menagerie, among others. “When people work hard and are loyal to their employers, they should be able to expect the basic rights of health and pension benefits. How can producers deny us the basic benefits we are asking for – for ourselves and future generations of casting directors?”

“It is shameful that Broadway producers deny healthcare and a stable retirement to casting directors,” said Tom O’Donnell, President of Teamsters Local 817.  “This is only the first step. As the Tony Awards approach, we are going to take every opportunity to increase the visibility of our struggle on Broadway and demand that producers put their greed aside and take care of our members who have helped to make Broadway a remarkable success. Everything is on the table. This is not Trump’s Broadway.”

Indecent and Book of Mormon were joined by cast and crew of several other plays on Broadway and around the country and notable actors like Alex Brightman of School of Rock, Andrew Keenan-Bolger of Newsies and Tuck Everlasting, and Willie Garson of Sex in the City. All of the photos can be seen by searching #FairnessForCasting on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

“The prospect of knowing that the next generation of casting directors will enjoy benefits that have been denied to us fills me with determination,” said Tara Rubin, a casting director for over 30 years. “I have loved every minute of being a casting director but I won’t give this up until I know the young people in our community will be able to carry on with union protection – like our colleagues who are designers, directors, choreographers, writers, stagehands, press representatives, ushers and all the other workers in the Broadway community.”

Donté Bonner and I were lucky enough to shoot together for a couple of hours yesterday due to the hard work of a #CastingDirector who brought us both in for the initial audition for this project. Donté’s character was (comically) severely injured for this shoot. If he had been really injured, he could have taken advantage of the health insurance for which we have access to by our actor’s unions…not to mention the retirement plans and workplace protections. Casting directors do not have such benefits–they are not covered by a union contract. Their specialized skills and dedication to their craft should be rewarded with the same level of benefits the people in front of the camera/curtain enjoy–which is why I Support Casting Directors and #FairnessForCasting

A post shared by Todd Alan Crain (@toddalancrain) on


Casting directors are the creative vision behind the dynamic casts that make Broadway shows a success. They are involved in a production from the beginning, assembling actors for readings or workshops, to the end, recasting roles and scouting new talent. Casting directors can work for months or years on a show before they get a formal contract from the producer.

“Make no mistake, this is about Trump’s America,” said Cindy Tolan, a Broadway casting director for shows including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. “Las​t season, Broadway producers grossed $1.5 billion. Health insurance and retirement contributions for one week for a single casting director cost significantly less than the price of one premium Broadway ticket. We’re talking about the health and welfare of less than 40 theatre ​​artists. Do the math. This is about the little person up against the 1%.”

While casting directors have gotten the cold shoulder from the producers, they have the full support of other Broadway unions, including IATSE Local One, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, the Actors Equity Association, and Musicians AFM Local 802.

The union promised increasing activity in the days leading up to the Tony Awards, on June 11th. “Stay tuned,” said O’Donnell.