Disney live-event unit shutters Glendale office

11 out of 14 employees laid off at Theatrical Group

Disney Theatrical Group, the entity behind such live stage shows as "Mary Poppins" and "The Lion King," will close its Glendale office and eliminate 11 jobs, a spokesman said Thursday.

The entire operation consists of 14 people, two of whom will move to nearby offices; one, Jack Eldon, will relocate to New York, where the division is headquartered.

In New York, he will "lead a team responsible for managing our domestic businesses including self-produced and licensed musicals," according to a memo from David Schrader, the unit's No. 2 executive under president Thomas Schumacher, whose contract expires in 2012.

Those let go were involved in the "Disney on Ice" and "Disney Live" shows, which are licensed to Feld Entertainment. Eldon, with the help of the two remaining Glendale employees, will oversee the Feld relationship.

The 11 laid-off employees represent 10% of the 16-year-old unit's work force, spokesman Joe Quenqua said. The shift represents a "consolidation" and doesn't indicate a waning interest in live stage shows at Disney or with audiences, he said.

"The business is booming, frankly," Quenqua said, adding that there are 20 new titles in development including a live musical version of the animated classic "Dumbo."

The Schrader memo promises "severance packages including outplacement assistance" to support the laid-off workers.

"While circumstances can change, we do not have plans for additional layoffs at this time," Schrader wrote.
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