By Alfred Branch, Jr.

The Great White Way could go dark if Broadway producers and stagehands can’t resolve their issues surrounding a new contract. Which could mean no shows for the first time in four years.

Playbill is reporting that the League of American Theatres and Producers will stop negotiating with Local One of Theatrical Stage Employees union after Sunday, Sept. 30, if the two sides can’t come to an agreement. After that date, a lockout of the theater stagehands could occur at any time because technically the most recent contract expired July 31, and the two sides have been in talks for more than a year. The most recent time Broadway went was 2003 when unionized musicians went on strike for four days.

Broadway ticket sales remain a staple of brokers’ business, so closed down productions would impact them. In addition a prolonged lockout could have serious effects on New York City’s economy, especially since 2007 has seen a healthy bump in ticket sales. But, more than half of new productions fail each season and lose millions.

Currently, stagehands earn anywhere from $1,225 to above $1,600 per week on average, according to the New York Times, and with overtime and premium or additional work, many stagehands make more than $110,000 annually.

Producers are looking to cut costs by lowering the number of required stagehands during certain periods at the beginning of a production, and by reducing the number of hours, among other measures, according to published reports. The verbal sparring between the two sides reached enough of a crescendo both have reportedly amassed multi-million dollar warchests in the event of a lockout.