In a new interview with Variety, Tony-winning star Sutton Foster says she did not feel comfortable continuing with her role in the Broadway musical “The Music Man,” if disgraced producer Scott Rudin was involved with the upcoming Broadway show.
After allegations of abusive workplace behavior that surfaced in April, Rudin announced that he would be stepping back from his Broadway productions, which include “The Music Man.”
Foster is set to co-star alongside Hugh Jackman in the highly-anticipated stage revival, which will open in February 2022.
“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 tells Variety, when asked to respond to reports that she said she would leave the show, if Rudin did not leave. “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.”
As accusations of workplace conduct were mounting against Rudin, Foster felt she needed to voice her concerns regarding Rudin’s involvement in “The Music Man” to make a difference in the theater community.
“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. “You look at what your values are and what is important to you as you are navigating your career and the choices that you make, and then also, how you put those choices out into the world. So, it was an interesting time because I really had to ask a lot of questions of myself on how I wanted to handle the situation, so there were lots of conversations being had.”
Variety has reached out to Rudin for comment.
After a bombshell report was published by The Hollywood Reporter detailing various accounts of Rudin being a “monster,” including throwing objects at staff members, the producer announced that he would be taking a step back from Broadway, saying in a statement: “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.”
Previously, Foster spoke about the Rudin situation, indicating that both she and her “Music Man” co-star Jackman were pleased that the producer would no longer be part of the production. Speaking in an Instagram Live in mid-April, Foster said, “It’s a really unfortunate situation, but the only positive outcome is the one that is happening, and I know Hugh [Jackman] feels exactly the same way.”
Foster — who stars in the critical darling and fan-favorite series “Younger,” which airs its series finale next week — feels compelled to part of productive change in the entertainment industry, especially in theater, which has undergone a tragic year of massive loss, as COVID-19 shut down all live events, putting stage actors and crew members out of work.
New York City theaters have been closed since March 2020, and are finally set to reopen this September.
“It’s been a really interesting year. I never in a million years thought that what I did for a living, especially being on stage, would be gone,” Foster says. “It’s been a really hard thing for our industry. People have been able to work from home, but what we do requires people to gather. It’s been a really challenging time.”
This summer, Foster will head to London and make her West End debut, starring in the “Anything Goes” revival, reprising the same role that earned her a second lead actress Tony Award for the musical in 2011. In London, she replaces Megan Mullally, who had to depart the production, due to an injury.
Foster says that once she returns from London and arrives in New York for “Music Man” rehearsals this October, she can’t wait to get back to The Great White Way — not just to perform on stage, but to sit in the crowd.
“The promise of theater returning is thrilling to me. It’s like New York City doesn’t exist without being able to go and see live theater,” Foster says. “As much as I’m excited to be on the stage again, I think I’m more excited to be an audience member again. I’m going to buy tickets for everything. I just want to be in the audience again.”
Reflecting on the positive change she hopes to help push forward, Foster says, “A lot has happened this year. It’s been a big year. There have been a lot of new conversations.”
“I’m really looking forward to that first rehearsal and being back among this Broadway community and rebuilding it,” she says. “I think it’s an exciting time, and I’m looking forward to being part of the rebuilding of Broadway and theater and what that looks like.”
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