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Moulin Rouge! The Musical star quits Broadway show in protest at ‘monster’ producer Scott Rudin

Patrick Kelleher April 15, 2021
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Cast of Moulin Rouge! The Musical on stage

Karen Olivo (centre) will not return to Moulin Rouge! The Musical. (Walter McBride/WireImage)

Moulin Rouge! The Musical star Karen Olivo has quit the Broadway show in protest against the industry’s silence surrounding “monster” producer Scott Rudin.

Rudin, the hugely-successful film, television and theatre producer, was accused of abusive behaviour towards staff in a Hollywood Reporter exposé published last week.

In the article, former staffers detailed numerous claims of bullying, including Rudin allegedly slamming a computer monitor down on an employee’s hand and throwing a baked potato at another worker.

He was also accused of throwing a glass bowl at an employee, leading to them leaving his New York office in an ambulance after suffering a panic attack, and of throwing a stapler at a theatre assistant.

Olivo, who originated the lead role of Satine in the Broadway production of Moulin Rouge! The Musical in 2019, said she will not be returning to the show following the revelations about Rudin.

Rudin is not a producer on Moulin Rouge! The Musical, but Olivo said she felt the need to take action in response to the industry’s silence surrounding allegations made against Rudin.

Karen Olivo says ‘everybody’s scared’ of speaking out against Scott Rudin

In a video posted to Instagram, Karen Olivo said she is quitting the show to make a stand for her students in the hope that the industry will start speaking truth to power.

“I’m coming on here because I want to let everyone know before it goes into the spin cycle why this is an important time and how we can actually use our power in situations,” Olivo said in the video.

“I was talking to my students this morning about why I’m not going back to Moulin Rouge! and as I was talking to them about it I was like, ‘Oh right, this is actually important for all of us, because I could easily go back to the show and make a lot of money, but I still wouldn’t be able to really control what I was putting out in to the world.’

“And what I’m seeing in this space right now, our industry, is that everybody’s scared and nobody is really doing a lot of the stuff that needs to be done. People aren’t speaking out.”

Olivo continued: “Social justice is actually more important than being the sparkling diamond. Building a better industry for my students is more important than me putting money in my pockets.


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A post shared by Karen Olivo (@karenolivo76)

“For all y’all who don’t hear me – the silence about Scott Rudin, unacceptable. Unacceptable. That’s the easy one, y’all. That’s a monster, that should be a no-brainer.

“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? Are y’all hearing me?

“Come on y’all, humanity. We’re talking about human beings, not about where your career’s going to go. The dream of what we were going for, making art, the moment we stepped into this capitalistic structure, that went away.”

Karen Olivo urged others in the entertainment industry to take a stand against Scott Rudin’s alleged behaviour.

“You wanna protect your pocket book and let people go to the emergency room so you can do your next concert?” she asked.

“I don’t need to be on a stage, I need to be out here. People are more important than your pocket book. That’s it. That’s all that needs to be said from here on out. I value humanity more. I want a theatre industry that matches my integrity.”

Olivo urged other Broadway and Hollywood stars to “divest and invest in ourselves” and put their money “with people who value human life and respect human life”.

Closing out the video, Olivo said she was making a stand for her acting students “who still dream about making art because they don’t now the bulls**t that’s out here.”

Theatre unions SAG-AFTRA, Actors’ Equity Association and American Federation of Musicians Local 802 issued a joint statement Monday (April 12) condemning bullying and vowing “to hold accountable those who violate human and legal norms of fair, respectful and dignified conduct in the workplace”. It did not, however, name Rudin.

PinkNews has contacted Scott Rudin for comment.

Related topics: Broadway

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