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Not Equity’s idea of a poster girl

Jennifer PAZ has become Exhibit A in Actors’ Equity’s case against erstwhile members of the union who work in stage productions without Equity contracts.

The L.A.-based actress, best known as the star of the Equity-blessed “Miss Saigon” tour that played L.A. in 1995, quit the union in 2003 to play the same role on a nonunion tour.

She hoped to rejoin, however, in time to appear in a Rubicon Theatre production, “Songs for a New World,” that will open in Ventura on Saturday. She appeared in the same show at Los Angeles Theatre Center in the summer of 2003.

But at a Jan. 6 meeting in New York, Equity’s top brass squelched Paz’s application to return to the union. An article in this month’s Equity newsletter, headlined “Scab Actor Denied Readmission to Equity,” noted the opinion of the union’s President’s Planning Committee that Paz wasn’t remorseful for her previous action. It didn’t help her case that she was still employed by the nonunion “Miss Saigon” even as she asked to be readmitted to Equity.

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Reached at her L.A. home last week during a two-week break in the “Miss Saigon” tour, Paz declined to talk about the rejection until after she had consulted her attorney.

In Ventura, Rubicon producer Karyl Lynn Burns said, “We love and admire Jennifer. We hope at some point she’ll be readmitted to the union.” Still, the Rubicon contract with Equity requires that 79% of the actors in a given show belong to the union, and “Songs For a New World” has only four actors. The cast includes another “Miss Saigon” veteran, Joan Almedilla.


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