Chanhassen Dinner Theatres canceled the production and promised to ensure more BIPOC artists would be involved in future productions.
A Minnesota theater has announced that it was canceling the production of Cinderella after realizing the cast "too White." Chanhassen Dinner Theatres was scheduled to stage the show in the latter part of the year but canned the idea after its artistic director called the show out for its lack of diversity. "It was 98 percent White," artistic director, Michael Brindisi told Pioneer Press. Brindisi made the comment after running through the cast list of Roger & Hammerstein's Cinderella. Brindisi said it was time to “change our culture."
"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," read a statement by Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. "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."
Chanhassen has an overwhelmingly White demographic with a recent census revealing that 92.5 percent of the people are White. Only 3 percent of Chanhassen are Hispanic while only 1.1 percent are Black. This made the casting of the production even more problematic. The production didn't release an official photo of the cast before finally scrapping it. The theater company said it will be instituting structural changes to ensure such situations don't arise again. They promised to implement new diversity protocols and include Black, Indigenous, and other artists of color to address the diversity issue at the company. "We will be inviting (and paying) BIPOC artists to analyze the production with our creative teams through a new DEI lens – looking to expand the voices that are at the table and impacting the storytelling," read their statement. "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."
The company added that it will be counting on the creative team to hold each other accountable as they strive to hire a diverse cast. Their creative team includes Michael Brindisi, apart from Tamara Kangas-Erickson and Andy Kust. The theater company also promised to address diversity issues outside of casting. "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," said the company.
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres has also announced that it will be producing Footloose after its current production The Music Man. The theater also announced it would encourage people to color to join the cast of its current production. "We 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," read the statement.