In a new push for diversity, Chanhasssen Dinner Theatres scraps plans to stage ‘Cinderella’ – Twin Cities
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres has scrapped plans to stage Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” and will instead make its next production “Footloose.”
The company announced the news Monday, citing its “ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. … 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.”
In an interview, artistic director Michael Brindisi said the decision had nothing to do with the show’s content and that he’s not ruling out staging “Cinderella” at some point in the future.
The show came into question after Brindisi looked at the cast.
“It was 98 percent white,” he said. “That doesn’t work with what we’re saying we’re going to do.”
Brindisi considered recasting, but ultimately decided to “scrap this and start fresh with a clean slate.” Some of the actors were disappointed, he said, “but every one to a person said they got it and that they respected the very hard decision we had to make.”
The move comes at a time when CDT — and theaters across the country — are looking to add diversity, both on stage and off.
After the killing of George Floyd last summer, Brindisi said he realized 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.”
To help foster those moves, CDT hired a diversity consultant, Kelli Foster Warder, who devised a plan to address changes in how the theater operates in the future.
“We wanted to meet it head on,” Brindisi said. “We need to fix things and we’re going to do just that.”
These changes, he said, aren’t just limited to the theater.
“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.”
CDT had announced “Cinderella” as the follow-up to its production of “The Music Man.” But the pandemic forced the company to shut down the musical just a week after its premiere in March last year.
In February, CDT announced “The Music Man” would reopen July 2 at 50 percent capacity, assuming it meets both the COVID guidelines at the time and gains the approval of the actors’ union.
Several actors aren’t able to rejoin “The Music Man” in July and Brindisi said he’s looking to add more diversity to that show when he recasts the roles.
“Footloose” is likely to debut at some point in 2022.
This content was originally published here.