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Whitewashing backlash shuts down Australian production of Lin-Manuel Miranda play

A Australian creation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical At the Heights was cancelled, following intense backlash within the organization’s whitewashing of a throw of Latinx characters.

The Hamilton founder’s Tony Award-winning musical celebrates Latin-American civilization in Miranda’s very own New York area of Washington Heights, using a complete cast of characters such as Latinx actors.

But, a Queensland company fell short here, using a current Brisbane creation of this musical sparking outrage regarding the amount of white actors, including the casting of this show’s lead character, Usnavi de la Vega, a Dominican immigrant initially played with Miranda himself.

Manufactured by Gold Coast firm Matt Ward Entertainment, At the Heights was made to operate in the Brisbane Powerhouse as a portion of Wonderland Festival in late November.

Together with the announcement of this throw via promotional posters, OnStage Blog pounced on the series, accusing it of whitewashing and composing, “It may also be a mass-bleaching of this series with the way they throw these functions with white and non-Latinx actors”

“This is one of those very few shows which celebrates Latinx civilization and attributes Latinx actors in lead roles. “And if a theater blatantly won’t throw Latinx actors in favor of white, non-Latinx celebrities, that has to be called out.”

An promotional Facebook banner ad for your Brisbane show.

After the article, media policy and important social networking responses, Matt Ward Entertainment cancelled the series, issuing a press release on Sept. 29.

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“We respectfully admit concerns from the neighborhood regarding casting of their job and humbly accept that the public believes that we haven’t exploited, at this moment, a decent number of genuine Latinx listeners to tell this particular story.

“While we’re motivated by supplying talented regional actors the chance to hone their craft in a professional environment, and are pleased with our team’s commitment to multicultural casting, we admit the vitalness of cultural validity as well as the community’s concerns with this particular event.

“To people who we’ve caused suffering; please know that our goal was just ever to inform this much-loved narrative and we offer our deepest sorrow and sincere apologies for any accidental offence.”

“Over 50 percentage of our cast members identify having an ancestry besides Australian.

Matt Ward Entertainment’s casting call initially looks for “12 principle personalities, an outfit of roughly 20 dancers who specialise in Latin, Urban and hip styles along with a choir outfit singing in both Spanish and English languages.”

In addition they note, “From The Heights celebrates diversity and addition — we strongly urge actors from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds to use.”

The organization reiterated this in on Facebook, posting, “In casting From The Heights, we intentionally encouraged performers of all ethnicities to employ and were dedicated to ensuring that our casting represented Australia’s enormous cultural and linguistic diversity whilst building the highest-quality throw members out there for its creation.”

Australia’s theater scene is not quite as varied it might be. The Cultural Diversity in Australian Theatre report printed by Melbourne-based author Kim Ho discovered that in 2017, under a fifth of 95 productions by ten major Australian firms are by a author of color, and much less than one seventh are led by artists of color. Performer data was not revealed in this report.

However, the Australian theatre industry isn’t alone, along with the Gold Coast-based firm is not the initial accused of whitewashing From the Heights. Chicago’s Porchlight Music Theatre has been slammed because of the 2016 manufacturing, which comprised white celebrity Jack DeCesare since the show’s lead, Usnavi.

In an announcement released by the Chicago Sun-Times, Porchlight’s artistic director, Michael Weber, stated, “Following a thorough audition procedure, where we watched countless the Chicago-area’s varied music theater gift — both new and established — and actually reached out to our town’s vast hip-hop dance community … we’ve made every attempt to introduce a business which reflects the real soul of the story of community and loved ones.”

Unfortunately, in both situations, “try” is not the same as really projecting. And whitewashing, regrettably, is not just a brand new (or previous) thing from the theater industry.  

fared better, huh?

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