Written by: Emma Stevens, Staff Writer
Tony Award-winning actress Karen Olivo announced last Wednesday that she will not be returning to Moulin Rouge! The Musical, citing concerns about the industry in the wake of the Scott Rudin scandal.
For decades, there has been a history of abusive behavior in Hollywood, much of which has come to light in the last few years through the #MeToo movement as well as #TimesUp.
Unlike big names such as Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer, Rudin’s behavior stayed under the radar during these movements. A major producer in television, film and theater, Rudin’s allegedly-abusive behavior remained under wraps for years.
However, on April 7, The Hollywood Reporter published an article claiming Rudin has anger issues and a penchant for violence. The article cited incidents as far back as 2012 when Rudin smashed a computer onto an assistant’s hand, causing injuries that required immediate medical attention.
Though Rudin was often characterized as a “boss-zilla,” many Hollywood figures now consider the behavior to be toxic and abusive.
In reaction to the exposè, many major players in the theater world have condemned his behavior.
“No worker should be subjected to bullying or harassment, whether or not they are a union member,” said the presidents of the Screen Actors Guild, the Actors’ Equity Association and the American Federation of Musicians Local 802 in a joint statement.
Despite this public statement, Olivo believes there is still too much that needs to change in the industry before she would feel comfortable performing again.
In an Instagram video captioned “Humanity is more important than my bank account,” Olivo explained that she will not be returning to Moulin Rouge! The Musical. She stated that she wanted to make her own announcement before the news went into the “spin cycle.”
With nearly 25 years of Broadway experience in iconic roles such as Anita is the revival of West Side Story and Vanessa in In The Heights, Olivo’s words carry a heavy weight in the industry. Her choice not to return to Moulin Rouge! The Musical could have serious consequences for the production.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical was one of the most popular shows running on Broadway prior to COVID-19, largely due to Olivo’s role as Satine.
“I could easily go back to a show and make a lot of money, but I still wouldn’t be able to control what I was putting out into the world,” Olivo stated.
She went on to say that she feels not enough progress is happening and that many people are too scared to speak out.
“Those of you who say you’re scared — what are you afraid of? Shouldn’t you be more afraid of not saying something and more people getting hurt?” Olivo asked.
In her time away from the spotlight, she has returned to her alma mater, the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), to teach aspiring performers.
“Building a better industry for my students is more important than me putting money in my pockets,” Olivo said.
As it stands now, Olivo has no plans to return to the stage and will remain a professor at CCM. Rudin has issued statements that he will be taking a step back from Broadway due to the accusations levied against him.
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