Chanhassen Dinner Theatres canceled its upcoming production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” because the cast was too white.
The Chanhassen-based production company cited its “ongoing commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” when announcing the news Monday.
“Our hope in beginning the production process again with a new title [is that it] will allow us to put into practice an intentional process based on the work we have been doing towards equity and inclusivity,” the company said in a statement.
President Michael Brindisi, who also serves as “artistic director,” elaborated on the cancellation in an interview this week with the Pioneer Press.
“It was 98 percent white,” he told the outlet. “That doesn’t work with what we’re saying we’re going to do.”
According to its website, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is currently owned by three white people, including Brindisi.
The theater is in the process of “establishing new pre-production protocols” so it can avoid casting a majority-white ensemble in the future.
Those new protocols will include the hiring of “BIPOC artists” who will “analyze the production with our creative teams through a new DEI lens.”
“We believe this new process will allow us to tell the story in a rich way and allow us to live out our commitment to identity-conscious casting and becoming a more intentionally anti-racist theater,” the company said.
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is scheduled to reboot its production of “The Music Man” July 2 and will replace actors who can’t return for the show “with a strong priority placed on casting BIPOC artists.”
“The Music Man” originally premiered last March but was forced to shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The company’s formal commitment to “DEI” appears to date back to Feb. 15 of this year with the release of its “DEI/Anti-Racism Statement.”
“As we become a more equitable and anti-racist organization we will be setting measurable goals and action steps,” said the February statement.
The theater has also hired a “DEI consultant” to hold training sessions for senior leadership and plans to create a “staff DEI committee who will work collectively on these efforts including input into the creation of our anti-racism statement and commitments.”
“Just to be clear, we believe unapologetically in the changes we are making, and we believe that all of our kind-hearted guests will follow us on this journey,” Chanhassen Dinner Theatres said in a Tuesday follow-up statement.
The Daily Mail points out that finding a diverse cast in Chanhassen could be difficult, since the Minneapolis suburb has a black population of 1.1 percent (as of the most recent census).