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Yikes...


NEW YORK (AP) --Broadway's musicians went on strike early Friday, though theater producers said talks with the musicians' union would continue.

Even if no agreement is reached by show time, the curtain will still rise on the 18 shows affected, said Pat Smith, a spokesman for the theater producers. Casts of several shows began rehearsing last week with computer-generated orchestras that could replace striking musicians.

Outside the Broadway Theater, where "La Boheme" is playing, half a dozen musicians began picketing Friday morning.

Theater producers "are not going to reduce ticket prices. They're just going to get rid of musicians to add to their pockets. That's all this is about," said Marshall Coid, an onstage violin soloist for the musical "Chicago."

Live music on Broadway is important, Coid said. "Theater is live. It's reactive. It's in the moment. It changes, it's never the same."

A telephone recording at Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, which represents 325 musicians performing in current musicals, stated: "As of midnight Thursday night, no agreement has been reached between Local 802 and the League of American Theatres and Producers. Local 802 musicians are on strike."

The union is primarily wrangling over the issue of minimums -- the number of orchestra players required for Broadway shows.

In negotiations last week, the producers proposed the number of musicians required for the large Broadway theaters be reduced to seven. The minimums at those large theaters currently range from 24 to 26.

The producers originally wanted to do away with minimums altogether, saying they sometimes require shows to use more players than the shows need. The union says the minimums are essential to keep live music from disappearing on Broadway.

It was unclear what effect, if any, the strike would have on other Broadway unions. Actors' Equity leaders planned a meeting and scheduled a late afternoon news conference to discuss the issue.

Okay, yes this is a very serious issue. In this age of technology, more and more music in movies, television, and other things is being produced without any musicians. Kinda scary, because if there're no jobs (most "real" orchestras, i.e. philharmonics, chamber ensembles, get peanuts) there will be no musicians. Harsh? Perhaps. What makes me wonder, though, is the way they're dealing with it. By striking and forcing the companies to use computer generated music, they might very well be providing their employers with the chance to phase real musicians out entirely. "Gee, the last show worked so well, why don't we just do every show from now on that way?"

Ugh.

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