Tony-winning star Sutton Foster said she would not return to her role in the Broadway revival of The Music Man if producer Scott Rudin had any part in the forthcoming revival. The disgraced producer stepped back from his current projects following allegations of abusive workplace behavior in April.
“Obviously, we were dealing with a situation and navigating a very difficult situation, so there were a lot of conversations that were being had,” Foster told Variety. “All that I can say is that was definitely part of the conversation. I can say that it was definitely part of the conversation, but it was never a threat—it was always just part of discussions of what I felt comfortable with and what I wanted to be involved with.”
All Broadway shows have been on pause since New York City theaters closed in March 2020. Stages reopen in September, and The Music Man premieres once more in February 2022. Foster will star in the show alongside Hugh Jackman.
“I am very much excited to be a part of this production and be part of moving Broadway forward and creating a safe and equitable and inclusive environment for everyone involved—not just on our production, but beyond. That is what is important to me, so I needed to have those conversations,” Foster says.
Rudin’s toxic behavior in offices and on sets has been well-documented over the his four-decade long career. However, the producer’s day of reckoning did not arrive until an exposé in The Hollywood Reporter, where ex-staffers called him an “absolute monster,” citing actions not limited to throwing objects at staff, aggressive belittling, throwing tantrums at the slightest inconvenience, and smashing an Apple computer monitor on an assistant’s hand. Former interns and assistants then shared their experiences with Vulture, detailing the grueling, stressful days that left them fearful of any action working for a man that promised to ruin their careers.
Following the allegations, Rudin decided to remove himself from his Broadway projects, saying “Much has been written about my history of troubling interactions with colleagues, and I am profoundly sorry for the pain my behavior caused to individuals, directly and indirectly … After a period of reflection, I’ve made the decision to step back from active participation on our Broadway productions, effective immediately.” Rudin’s next film release is Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, in theaters October 22, 2021.
The news of Rudin’s abusive workplace environment sent out not a shockwave through Broadway, but more like a ripple. Expecting a #MeToo moment similar to what occurred in film following the arrest of Harvey Weinstein, Tony-nominated Karen Olivo announced in an Instagram video that she would not return to Moulin Rouge! The Musical cast, due to the lack of response by the greater theatre industry for years. While Rudin wasn’t involved in Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Olivo says “The silence about Scott Rudin: unacceptable. That should be a no-brainer.”