NYC Judge Orders 'Grinch' to Reopen on Broadway Despite Strike

Curtain up for the "Grinch." Twenty-six more shows to go.

Performances resume at 11 a.m. Friday after a Manhattan judge ordered the reopening of "Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas!" despite the ongoing Broadway stagehands strike that has shut down more than two dozen plays and musicals.

Tickets already are on sale through Telecharge or for all performances through Jan. 6, the end of the show's limited holiday run.

"I'm going to grant the injunction" against the lockout, state Supreme Court Justice Helen Freedman said Wednesday. "I think one Grinch in town is enough."

Freedman's ruling came a day after she heard arguments from producers of the show and owners of the theater housing the $6 million production. Producers, citing a special contract between the show and Jujamcyn Theaters, wanted the show to go on.

Jodi Hassan, a spokeswoman for the musical, said an appeal of the court's decision by the theater's owners had been postponed indefinitely. Calls to Jujamcyn executives were not immediately returned.

"We got our miracle on 44th Street," said James Sanna, "Grinch" producer. "We have 11 shows this Thanksgiving weekend and we hope that the families and children will come out and join us."

Meanwhile, The Nederlander Producing Co. and producers of seven shows in its nine Broadway theaters have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan seeking $35 million in damages from striking union members.

Nederlander said the strike against them is unlawful because they have a separate contract with the stagehands union Local 1 than other producers.

The $35 million represented revenues lost since the strike began, including lost ticket sales, concessions and merchandise. Nederlander theaters currently house "Grease," "Wicked," "The Drowsy Chaperone," "Rent," "Hairspray," "Legally Blonde," "The Little Mermaid," "The Lion King" and "Cyrano De Bergerac," a limited run play starring Kevin Kline that's scheduled to close Dec. 23.

Bruce Cohen, a spokesman for Local 1, said the union had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

Jujamcyn owners said the lockout was legal and a tactical decision by the theater owners in handling the strike. An attorney for the owners said his clients had no assurance that the stagehands would not walk out again if the show resumed at the St. James Theatre, which is owned by Jujamcyn.

The continued closing of "The Grinch," however, was the result of a management lockout rather than the strike, with the theater owners refusing to let the musical perform even though the stagehands union said it would work.

The dispute between the stagehands union, Local 1, and the League of American Theatres and Producers is focused on how many workers are required to open a Broadway show and keep it running.

Stagehands include scenery and prop handlers, carpenters, electricians, and lighting and sound technicians. They have been working without a contract since the end of July.

Eight shows, whose theaters have separate contracts with the league, remain unaffected by the walkout: "Pygmalion," "The Ritz," "Mauritius," "Cymbeline," "Young Frankenstein," "Mary Poppins," "Xanadu" and "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." All off-Broadway productions are open, too.

Last season, "Grinch," playing at the Hilton Theatre, was one of Broadway's big success stories. During its 11-week run, the show's total gross topped $15 million.

"This year, we were tracking to do just as well, and then news of the strike has really slowed down our sales," Sanna said last week. "At this point last year ... it would have been difficult to get a good ticket. This year, because we have had so many cancellations, there is a great opportunity for families who want to see `Grinch."'