‘Moulin Rouge!” Star Karen Olivo Won’t Return To Broadway Production In Protest Of Industry Silence Over Scott Rudin
Karen Olivo, the Tony-nominated star of Broadway hit musical Moulin Rouge!, will not return to the production when the industry re-opens in protest of what she says is the industry silence over the workplace harassment and abuse claims levied against film and theater producer Scott Rudin.
“Social justice is more important than being the sparkling diamond,” she said in a scathing Instagram video today. “Building a better industry for my students is more important than me putting money in my pockets. Building a better industry – I’m yelling now – building a better industry is more important than putting money in my pockets.
“For all of ya’ll who don’t hear me, the silence about Scott Rudin – unacceptable. Unacceptable. That’s the easy one, ya’ll. That’s a monster. That should be a no-brainer…What is your integrity saying you should do? You going to protect your pocket book and let people go to the emergency room, so you can go to your next concert?”
Olivo’s announcement comes two days after three theater unions – SAG-AFTRA, Actors’ Equity Association and American Federation of Musicians Local 802 – condemned workplace harassment and called on “every corporate Board of Directors should be deeply alarmed by credible reports of long-standing, repeated violent and aggressive harassing behavior by individuals who hold high positions within a company or on a production and exercise management power over subordinates.”
Though the unions did not name Rudin, the statement followed last week’s Hollywood Reporter story detailing allegations by four former employees of Rudin about what they say is the producer’s volatile and sometimes violent behavior. The employees described a toxic workplace environment in which the famously temperamental producer repeatedly berated, verbally, and in at least one case, physically, abused and fired assistants. The article included accounts of Rudin throwing objects like a potato, a tea cup, a stapler and a laptop during his temper tantrums and, in one case, allegedly smashed a computer monitor onto an assistant’s hand, necessitating a trip to the emergency room.
In her announcement today, Olivo, who won a Tony Award for her performance in the 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story, addressed her colleagues and peers: “What is your integrity saying you should do? You going to protect your pocket book and let people go to the emergency room, so you can go to your next concert?”
Olivo is one of musical theater’s biggest stars, having performed in the Tony-winning In the Heights and the Chicago production of Hamilton. Until her announcement, she was expected to her lead role of Satine in Moulin Rouge, for which she is currently nominated for a Tony. (Rudin is not a producer of Moulin Rouge!).
Olivo said in her video that she was speaking out in part “for my students who still dream about making art because they don’t know the bullshit that’s out here…I want a theater industry that matches my integrity. C’mon y’all, why don’t we go make it. It’s not here , obviously. Let’s go make it.”
Rudin has not commented on the allegations. Deadline has reached out to the Moulin Rouge! production for comment.
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