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11/07/2008

Showtunes! Chorus boys! And...gay inequality?!

by Jeremy Hooper

California Musical Theatre, billed as Northern CA's "premier producer and presenter of musical theatre," is currently putting on The Color Purple, a show all about discrimination. In March of 2009, they will present the thoroughly pro-gay Avenue Q (written by a queer book writer and queer composer/lyricist). Oh, and guess what? Any gay people or gay allies who support these shows (and others) will be putting money in the pocket of a man who put money against your equality:

"Yes on 8" donation
Picture 12-73

Make your musical theatre choices wisely, CA gays!

Scott Eckern (Artistic Director) [CMT]

**Note: To be fair, three others from CA Musical Theatre gave to our side. Unfortunately, those three donations did not total the one "yes" donation from this one senior decision maker.

**Note 2: In addition to openly gay Jeff Whitty (book writer) and Jeff Marx (music-lyrics), Avenue Q was all created by the heterosexual Robert Lopez (music-lyrics).

**UPDATE, 11/10: This tidbit from Americablog:

Marc Shaiman, composer of HAIRSPRAY, called Scott's theater, I'm told, and said he is pulling the rights from any of his shows, and is talking to other colleagues about doing the same. And a well known musical actress is now urging her friends to boycott working at the theater. Gosh, sounds like it's going to be hard for that theater to survive with Scott working there.

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Your thoughts

Goddamn it. People now have to be torn between enjoying a show with gay people who've worked on it, and not supporting a theater because the senior management sucks fucking balls. I'm sorry for the shows, but I'd boycott the place as long as the shows are there. Avenue Q was awesome, but I could've waited to see it if the place I went was supporting something this retarded.

Posted by: sadad | Nov 7, 2008 12:41:38 PM

Brigham Young University...

There's you're alarm bell, right there.

Posted by: Baldran | Nov 7, 2008 1:06:41 PM

I think it would be perfectly reasonable for the actors - both gay and straight - to send a letter to the Board of Directors stating "I'm not comfortable working with an artistic director that does not think that gay people are deserving of equal treatment under the law".

Posted by: Timothy | Nov 7, 2008 1:48:43 PM

While I may not agree with his decision,it was a personal choice, not professional. Meaning: the company did not support prop 8, he did. Now if they publically took a stand and said no gay actors, plays, or productions that would be worth a boycott. As far as I know CMT has never made any sort of indication that they do not support gay rights as a group. I will not be boycotting them at all.

We won't change intolerance without a degree of understanding.

Posted by: That Guy | Nov 7, 2008 8:35:08 PM

Slightly off the topic but to correct something in the original post: Avenue Q was not written by "queer co-creators." In fact, Avenue Q was written by two men, one of whom is gay and one of whom is straight.

Posted by: Margaret | Nov 8, 2008 1:29:37 AM

Actually, Margaret, the show was written by:

Jeff Whitty: Book writer, gay

Jeff Marx: Music and lyrics, gay

Robert Lopez: Music and lyrics, hetero

I was referring to Whitty and Marx -- I just forgot about Lopez. I'll clarify the text.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 8, 2008 8:40:37 AM

I work for California Musical Theatre and am openly gay. There has never been any discrimination against the GLBT community to my knowledge. Even though I do not agree with what Mr. Eckern has done based on his personal faith beliefs, I don't believe that a boycott of CMT productions is going to help. What about my income, or the income of my fellow GLBT co-workers? We still have to make a living in these hard economic times. Certainly voice your opinions to Mr. Lewis and the board of directors, but don't begin a boycott that may affect so many of us gay employees.

Posted by: j_a_u | Nov 10, 2008 1:44:00 AM

j_a_u: Nobody has called for a boycott. However, if in the area at this time, I would certainly make a personal choice to not attend a CMT production. As a former Broadway professional, I know how large of a role the artistic director plays, and I simply could not support his work. It would rob me of all enjoyment.

Everyone else is free to make their own decisions. And yes, that is unfortunate for the LGBT workers who would be affected. But that happens in all situations like this. The question might be whether your value system will allow you to work under someone who has actively campaigned against you and the loads of LGBT people who are involved in every one of CMT's productions. Perhpas the principled stand needs to come from within.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 10, 2008 7:11:34 AM

G-A-Y: Actually yes, there is serious talk about boycotts all over the internet, if you google this topic. This was just brought to my attention yesterday afternoon while I was dining at a restaurant adjoining one of CMT's theatres. Not only are patrons planning on boycotting shows, and getting other season ticket holders to boycott, but rumor is that this news is spreading in New York and playwrights/actors/musicians are planning to refuse to work for CMT or even prevent certain shows from being produced here in Sacramento. The out employees of CMT are calling for change, and Mr. Lewis, the executive producer is a fair man and will make sensible decisions. And oh, there aren't that many professional venues in Sacramento that would allow all of us to just up and change jobs! CMT is the fairest and most financially stable of theatre companies in Northern California, and us struggling artists are still living paycheck to paycheck at times. Again, refusing to attend productions where 1 man made a mistake, but dozens of other employees who oppose Prop 8 still rely on paychecks doesn't make sense to me. Change will happen, give it time, and voice your opinion loudly, but don't stop supporting "OUR" shows!

Posted by: j_a_u | Nov 10, 2008 11:41:49 AM

j_a_u: I'm not saying there is no call for boycott -- I'm saying that this website has not called for one. I'm speaking on behalf of this website, since you chose to comment here.

I hear your pain, and feel it. It's unfortunate. But at the same time, I think you have to also step outside of your life and look at it objectively.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 10, 2008 11:53:41 AM

Yes, sorry, there will be a boycott. If you think my partner and I (or my friends or my family) are going to support a theater which has a homophobe as artistic director, well you've got another think coming. Actions have consequences.

If you're an actor connected with CMT, it's up to YOU to let Eckern know how his decision is affecting your livelihood and ask him to get out of the way. I've let the theater know we are boycotting until Eckern is gone. Period. He has no right to write his religious beliefs into law: think how his actions have hurt people all over CA and put it into perspective.

Sorry again but NO MR. NICE GAY!

Posted by: Webster | Nov 10, 2008 2:28:41 PM

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