Mary Altaffer/AP
Melissa Rose Bernardo
November 18, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

Now that the Broadway strike has entered day 6, we’ve finally received our first bit of good news: The League of American Theatres and Producers and stagehands’ union Local One — which walked off the job on Nov. 10 after months of futile contract negotiations — have agreed to return to the bargaining table. ”Talks have been scheduled… beginning this weekend,” said the League in a statement.

Last Saturday’s walkout left 27 plays and musicals, from long-runners like The Phantom of the Opera to newcomers like Rock ‘N’ Roll, in the dark. (There are still eight shows running in nonprofit or independently owned theaters: Young Frankenstein, Xanadu, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Mauritius, The Ritz, Pygmalion, Mary Poppins, and Cymbeline.)

The producers and stagehands disagree over several issues, but the biggest is what producers call ”featherbedding”: They accuse the Union of demanding more workers than a show actually requires; the stagehands, who have been working without a contract since July, say the producers put profit before safety and efficiency.

Most industry folks are hoping for a deal around Thanksgiving. ”We’re hoping that it comes to a settlement sooner rather than later,” producer Daryl Roth told EW. (Three of Roth’s shows — the plays Is He Dead? and August: Osage County, both of which had just begun previews when the strike hit, and the musical Curtains — are currently idling.) ”The holiday season is the biggest annually for Broadway.”

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