A dinner theater company in Minnesota has cancelled its upcoming production of the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Cinderella over concerns that the cast was too white.
The Chanhassen Dinner Theatres cited its commitment to “equity and inclusivity” and to becoming an “anti-racist” theater in announcing the cancellation.
“We did not cancel Cinderella because of content,” the company said in a statement on its official site. “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.”
In an interview with the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, the theater’s artistic director said the musical’s casting fell far short of the company’s diversity goals. “It was 98 percent white,” artistic director Michael Brindisi told the newspaper. “That doesn’t work with what we’re saying we’re going to do.”
Brindisi said the company considered recasting the show but instead chose to “scrap this and start fresh with a clean slate.” The theater will produce a revival of the musical Footloose in place of Cinderella.
Going forward, the theater said it will hire “BIPOC” (black, indigenous, and people of color) artists to guide the company during the pre-production phase of its shows.
“This conversation will happen before the design and casting process has begun,” the company said in a statement. “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. ”