Minnesota Theater Scraps Cinderella Due to Cast Being 98% White
A Minnesota theatre has scrapped its production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, citing an “ongoing commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.”
Minnesota’s Chanhassen Dinner Theater has announced the cancellation of its production of Cinderella. In February, the company released an anti-racism statement, asserting the death of George Floyd last year as a “call to action” which inspired a commitment to work towards “a more equitable organization.” Through the enlistment of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultant, the Chanhassen Theater pledged to “build back to a complete and healthy business” by looking “deeply at [their] practices, biases and historical mistakes,” making the organization a “reflection of the beautiful and rich diversity in our society.”
In a statement released on Monday, the company confirmed that it had cancelled its upcoming productions of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, citing its ongoing commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. In addition, the theatre announced that it would be changing future programming, “establishing new pre-production protocols” and “inviting (and paying) BIPOC artists to analyze the production with our creative teams through a new DEI lens.” Committing to “identity-conscious casting” and a more “intentionally anti-racist theatre,” the company stated that it would replace Cinderella with Footloose and would place a “strong priority on casting BIPOC artists.”
Speaking to Minnesota’s Pioneer Press, Chanhassen theatre’s artistic director, Michael Brindisi, stated that the removal of Cinderella was due to the cast being “98% white.” Instead of recasting, Brindisi decided to scrap the production and “start fresh with a clean slate,” stating that it was time to “change our culture and make us more diverse and more equitable as a company.” The artistic director continued:
“We’ve really dug in on diversity, equity and inclusion, the commitment to social justice and getting more diversity into our business across the board. I’ve taken on some specific things in my personal life and some longtime issues I’ve had with family members. I’ve confronted some things that I haven’t confronted before. I’m on a journey to find out where I can be a better person and even an activist and ally.”
Brindisi also confirmed that some of the actors were disappointed with the cancellation of Cinderella, and some would not be able to return to the company.