Once upon a time, America was a real Cinderella story.
These days, to hear some people tell it, the same is just as true — only we’re now an evil stepsister.
Speaking of, a musical production about a fabled oppressed unfortunate who rises to royalty recently got canceled.
As indicated via statement Monday, the Chanhassen Dinner Theater’s offering of Cinderella has gone the way of the dodo bird:
After careful consideration and with our ongoing commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres has made the decision to cancel our upcoming production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.
The reason, per artistic director Michael Brindisi: The cast just wasn’t right.
Michael explained to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press:
“It was 98 percent white. That doesn’t work with what we’re saying we’re going to do.”
They’re certainly sure of their purpose; here’s more from the statement:
Our hope in beginning the production process again with a new title will allow us to put into practice an intentional process based on the work we have been doing towards equity and inclusivity.
As relayed by the Pioneer Press, the cast is bummed; no matter, they get that the “very hard decision” had to be made.
After such a racial misstep, what’s a joint to do?
The next move is clear, and they’re taking it.
But first, an explanation for those not in the know.
Courtesy of CBS News:
The language used to describe racial minorities has fueled controversy in the United States for centuries. POC is widely used as an umbrella term for all people of color, but now a different acronym is suddenly gaining traction on the internet — BIPOC, which stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Color.
People are using the term to acknowledge that not all people of color face equal levels of injustice. They say BIPOC is significant in recognizing that Black and Indigenous people are severely impacted by systemic racial injustices.
According to Google Trends, the use of the acronym began to spike in May 2020, coinciding with the growing Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
The theater’s statement indicates a plan of attack:
In addition to changing future programming, we are establishing new pre-production protocols. We will be inviting (and paying) BIPOC artists to analyze the production with our creative teams through a new DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) lens – looking to expand the voices that are at the table and impacting the storytelling. This conversation will happen before the design and casting process has begun. We believe this new process will allow us to tell the story in a rich way and allow us to live out our commitment to identity-conscious casting and becoming a more intentionally anti-racist theater. As a creative team, Michael Brindisi, Tamara Kangas-Erickson and Andy Kust will be holding each other accountable to ensure fair and equitable practices in all areas of casting.
And participants will no longer have to fear the threatening nature of the dramatic stage:
It is important to note that we are also in the process of analyzing other production areas that have been brought to our attention including auditions and rehearsals – we are committed to safe, equitable spaces in all areas, and we will continue to update our DEI statement as we explore and refine these plans with our teams.
So if you’re in the Chanhassen, Minnesota area and jonesin’ for some equitable entertainment, put on your new shoes and get ready to kick back for a progressive production complimented by identity casting.
And coming up — in place of Cinderella — Footloose.
The theater posted a follow-up Tuesday:
Just to be clear, we believe unapologetically in the changes we are making, and we believe that all of our kind-hearted guests will follow us on this journey.
We did not cancel Cinderella because of content. We are looking forward to bringing it to our stage in the future. But we as a company decided our original casting didn’t go far enough in our commitment, and instead of waiting another full year to implement these important changes, we chose now.
And by “now”…they mean right now:
[W]e will soon be accepting submissions for replacements in our current production of The Music Man, with a strong priority placed on casting BIPOC artists to join the cast. This announcement will be posted on our website and MN Playlist in upcoming weeks.
They’re cutting footloose. And cutting actors loose.
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