The concert was going to feature performances by our favorite Disney on Broadway veterans, and was to be hosted by Ryan McCartan. Broadway’s Prince Hans of the Southern Isles himself, McCartan was going to be hosting live from his family home. As a famous Newsie once said, wrongs will be righted if we’re united, which was fitting for the reunion of 18 Newsies set to appear from the original Broadway and touring productions.
The concert, which was originally filmed in November, was going to be all about celebrating the 25th anniversary of Disney on broadway. The concert was backed by 15 musicians and had already brought in around $570,000 for Broadway Cares.
Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA, two major labor unions, had agreed to allow the streaming of concert without fees, while the American Federation of Musicians, did not.
In an e-mail sent out by Ray Hair, the union’s international president, Hair wrote, “Members of the American Federation of Musicians are suffering from the sudden cancellation of all work as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. During the height of this crisis, Disney Theatrical has come to us asking to stream media content without payment to the musicians involved in the production. Especially now, with zero employment in the entertainment sector, the content producers should care enough about the welfare of those who originally performed the show to see to it that they are fairly compensated when their work is recorded and streamed throughout the world.”
In response, Disney, having raised nearly $20 million for Broadway Cares over the last 25 years, was understandably broken-hearted. In a statement put out by Disney Theatrical Productions, “Disney wholeheartedly supported the request from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS to AFM to waive fees for this fund-raiser, just as many unions and guilds had happily agreed to do. It’s disappointing that in this case, due to AFM’s decision, much-needed funds will not be raised. We are fiercely proud to be advocates for Broadway Cares and will continue to be, especially at a time like this.” According to The New York Times, the concert was around $200,000 to produce in the fall, and Disney did pay the musicians who performed.
When Hair refused to budge, Broadway Cares saw no other alternative but to cancel the concert outright and forego the chance to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund.