Theater Makes Resolution to Not Whitewash Shows, For At Least First Few Months, Until They Forget
by Marcus Canada. @marcus_canada_.
CLINTON, Ar. - The Middle Street Stage Theatre Company has publicized their resolution to no longer cast white actors in roles created for people of color starting in the new year - for a little while at least, until, you know, they forget, sources confirmed.
“We received a lot of backlash from whitewashing productions in the past, including last year’s all white production of Dreamgirls,” said artistic director, Greta Janet, while shredding production photos of a white actress playing Effie in blackface. “We didn't have any people of color audition, but we figured we’d do it anyway, because we like the music so much. That was a wrong decision, and we are really going to try and make our shows cast appropriately until at least June...maybe March...we’ll see.”
Bart Williams, a white man in his late 40s and a longtime Middle Street Stage actor, said he knows it's time for a change but is also disappointed.
“I worked hard to learn the accent for my starring role of Usnavi in In the Heights last year, and I’m sad it is going to go unused in the future,” lamented Williams who was seen carrying lots of darkly colored Ben Nye foundation makeup. “Last year, they didn’t make it past St. Patrick's Day. I am definitely not throwing the makeup away this time. I’m not making that mistake twice.”
Local season ticket holders, Wilma and Wilbert Stewart, said they’re hopeful for the change, but admitted the company has said the same thing every year.
“They always start off great with some wonderful productions,” commented Wilbert, who has made a bet with his wife the company won’t last through February. “But then by the Fall, they insist on some really questionable material. You would think they would produce a late Fall production of A Christmas Carol, but last year they insisted on doing an all white version of Miss Saigon, because ‘who doesn't love a helicopter?’”
The company has yet to release next year’s lineup, but an insider confirmed they are thinking of a Rodgers and Hammerstein tribute year. They intend to start with Oklahoma! in the Spring, but rumor is the Fall show will be The King and I. The company is hopeful they’ll have some people of color audition by then, but if not, they remained optimistic that “maybe by that time no one will notice.”