A MINNESOTA theater-restaurant has scrapped an upcoming production of “Cinderella” for being “too white.”
“It was 98 percent white,” Chanhassen Dinner Theatres artistic director Michael Brindisi said. “That doesn’t work with what we’re saying we’re going to do.”
Brindisi works at Chanhassen helping put on shows like Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” which will instead be replaced by a production of “Footloose.”
The company announced its plans on Monday, saying it has an “ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).”
“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.”
“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.”
Brindisi said the decision was made without consideration of the show’s content, and said he won’t rule out staging a more diverse production of “Cinderella” some time in the future.
He told The Pioneer Press he considered recasting it, but instead decided to “scrap this and start fresh with a clean slate.”
Although some actors were disappointed, Brindisi said “every person said they got it and that they respected the very hard decision we had to make.”
The theater made a similar statement following the death of George Floyd last year, with Brindisi saying it was time to “change our culture and make us more diverse and more equitable as a company.”
“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.”
The theater hired a diversity consultant to address how the theater operates in the future, and added in this week’s scrapping of “Cinderella,” it would be paying “BIPOC artists to analyze the production with our creative teams through a new DEI lens.”
“We wanted to meet it head on,” Brindisi said. “We need to fix things and we’re going to do just that.”
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Brindisi said he’s also taken his work home with him.
“I’ve taken on some specific things in my personal life and some longtime issues I’ve had with family members,” he added.
“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.”