Paradise Square lawsuit breakdown

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How fast until somebody is removed from this courtroom? Daniel_B_photos via Pixabay

The fall of producer Garth Drabinsky’s, Paradise Square, and the lawsuits that followed closing night

At this year’s Tony Awards, one of the stand-out performances was Joaquina Kalukango from Paradise Square singing “Let It Burn.” It was an emotional and incredible performance. Kalukango won Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for her role as Nelly O’Brien in Paradise Square. The show closed on July 17, 2022, just six days after the closing date was announced. 

Paradise Square is a musical that takes place in 1863 in New York during both the American Civil War and the New York Draft Riots. It centers around Paradise Square, a saloon in Lower Manhattan frequented by the show’s characters. The show got mixed reviews, but received 10 Tony Award nominations. 

Since its closing was announced, a lot has happened – starting with the producer being added to a “Do Not Work” list by the Actor’s Equity, the labour union for actors and stage managers working in theatre. Producer Garth Drabinsky was placed there by request from the cast and crew of Paradise Square. They stated in a letter that Drabinsky was abusive and neglectful. Not only was Drabinsky abusive and neglectful, but he also was not allowed to oversee the finances for the show because of a fraud conviction in 2009 for incorrectly stating finances for a theatre company.  

Along with the closing, and the addition of Drabinsky to the “Do Not Work” list, Paradise Square is getting sued for almost $350,000 by Actors’ Equity and United Scenic Artists. Actors’ Equity is claiming that Paradise Square has not paid them $190,000. The missing money would have gone towards health, pension, and taxes. It is a rare occasion that Actors’ Equity takes legal action against a production. According to the union, “Equity is pursuing every avenue available to ensure the actors and stage managers of Paradise Square receive everything their contract guarantees them.” Originally, there was a settlement agreement between Paradise Square and Actors’ Equity where the production agreed to give the union $413,000 in May of 2022. According to court documents filed in May of 2022, Paradise Square owed Actors’ Equity a certain percentage of funds based on the Rules Government Employment Under the Equity/League Production contract. The documents claim that Paradise Square owed the union “$33,512.28 of pension contributions; $57,900.00 of health contributions; $45,711.92 of 401(k)

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