‘Paradise Square’ Closes on Broadway, Leaving a Trail of Lawsuits

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After a disappointing run, the musical “Paradise Square” will close on Broadway this weekend, leaving a trail of lawsuits in its wake.

The show, about racial conflict in 1860s New York, garnered 10 Tony nominations, and Joaquina Kalukango won the award for best leading actress. But it failed to take hold with audiences, and will close on Sunday after a three-month run.

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Next the drama will move to court, where Actors Equity has already taken the rare step of filing a federal lawsuit for $174,000 in unpaid health, pension, and 401(k) contributions.

“Equity is pursuing every avenue available to ensure the actors and stage managers of ‘Paradise Square’ receive everything their contract guarantees them,” the union said in a statement.

Actors Equity entered a settlement agreement with the show in May, under which the show agreed to pay $413,000. But according to a second lawsuit filed last week in state court in New York, the production has since defaulted on the agreement and still owes about $190,000.

United Scenic Artists, USA Local 829, which represents some of the crew, also filed suit last Friday, claiming the production owes $156,965.85 in unpaid wages, dues and retirement contributions.

According to that lawsuit, the production representative failed to show up to a June 1 Zoom arbitration hearing to adjudicate the claim. The arbitrator ruled in favor of the union. One of the terms provides that if four designers — Allen Moyer, Don Holder, Jon Weston, and Toni-Leslie James — are not paid within six months, they will get the rights to the show.

A representative of the production declined to comment.

Jeffrey Chrzczon is the general manager of the production. Chrzczon also produced “Ruben and Clay’s Christmas Show,” a Broadway show featuring Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard, which ran for three weeks in 2018. Actors Equity also filed suit on that production, alleging that Aiken was not paid $60,000 in salary, and that the production owed $15,000 for various other performers. The union won an arbitration award in February 2020, and a judge confirmed the award in April, ordering Chrzczon to pay $80,000 in salary, unpaid contributions and costs.

The “Paradise Square” suits were first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.

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