By Evan Henerson
When you’re in New York, provided you have the means, you go to a Broadway show. Like the commercial says, “It’s what you do.”
And why do you go specifically to a Broadway show as opposed to, say, the neighborhood playhouse around the corner? Well, a lot of the time it’s because of the professional quality of the stage performers. “Talent” may be in the eye of the beholder, but performers who are members of Actors Equity Association (AEA) have trained and worked hard to get that recognition.
Pretty much any theater you will find on or off-Broadway will have Equity performers. You can recognize these actors by a notation in the program and, quite often, by a line at the end of their bio that says “proud member of Actors Equity for X amount of years. The 105-year-old union represents 51,000 live theater actors and stage managers across the country.
From AEA’s website:
“Belonging to the union provides members with fair compensation and workplace protections that permit performers to give their all, at every performance. Actors Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its Members by negotiating wages and working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included).”
Many of these performers and stage managers live and work primarily in large entertainment hubs like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, but those cities are not the only place you can find the Equity seal of approval. Earlier this year, AEA released its 2018 Regional Theatre Report detailing some of the nation’s best AEA membership cities. From Central Florida to Washington State, from St. Louis to San Diego, there’s probably a theater with Equity performers close to you.
But of course, when people think live theater, they think New York. If you happen to be in NYC this week, you’ll have a wide variety of entertainment available, from popular musicals like “Hamilton,” “The Book of Mormon” and “Frozen” to “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” and Denzel Washington in Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh.” You can find a round-up of all the offerings on Browadwayworld.com, and we certainly recommend checking out the discounts. Broadway, alas, doesn’t come cheap.
So remember to look for the AEA designation both in NYC and wherever you do your playgoing.