A strike that threatened to cripple New York ahead of the festive season has ended after more than two weeks of industrial action.

Over 20 Broadway shows had been shut down after stagehands walked out on November 10th following a dispute with producers.

The stagehands' union had negotiated with production representatives for three months, in the hope of defining a minimum number of stagehands necessary for a show.

But with producers eager to pursue a more flexible arrangement, the two sides failed to reach an agreement, leading to the strike and shutting down some of the most popular shows on the Great White Way - including Wicked and Hairspray - during the lucrative Thanksgiving weekend.

The tourism and retail sectors were also hit hard by the dispute, with the economic impact of the industrial action estimated at $2 million (£968,000) per day.

But a spokeswoman for the theatres has confirmed the productions will resume on Thursday.

"The contract is a good compromise that serves our industry. What is most important is that Broadway's lights will once again shine brightly," said Charlotte St Martin, head of the League of American Theatres and Producers.

And James Claffey, president of stagehands' union Local One, added: "The people of Broadway are looking forward to returning to work, giving the theatre-going public the joy of Broadway, the greatest entertainment in the world."

29/11/2007 12:13:29