Karen Olivo – Won’t Return to ‘Moulin Rouge’
Karen Olivo, the Tony-nominated star of Broadway hit musical Moulin Rouge!, will not return to the production when the industry re-opens in protest of what she says is the industry silence over the workplace harassment and abuse claims levied against film and theater producer Scott Rudin.
“Social justice is more important than being the sparkling diamond,” referencing one of her big Moulin Rouge! numbers in a scathing Instagram video today. “Building a better industry for my students is more important than me putting money in my pockets. Building a better industry – I’m yelling now – building a better industry is more important than putting money in my pockets.
Moulin Rouge! producers Carmen Pavlovic and Bill Damaschke released a statement to Deadline confirming Olivo’s departure and expressing support for the actress. (Rudin is not a producer of Moulin Rouge!).
“We can confirm that Karen Olivo will not return to the production when the show resumes performances on Broadway,” the statement reads. “Moulin Rouge! The Musical is forever indebted to Karen Olivo’s artistry, passion, and craft in creating the role of Satine on stage. We applaud and support Karen’s advocacy work to create a safe, diverse, and equitable theater industry for all. Karen has been an indelible influence on our show from its beginning, and words cannot properly express our gratitude. We wish Karen great success, and above all, love.”
“For all of ya’ll who don’t hear me, the silence about Scott Rudin – unacceptable. Unacceptable,” Olivo said. “That’s the easy one, ya’ll. That’s a monster. That should be a no-brainer…What is your integrity saying you should do? You going to protect your pocket book and let people go to the emergency room, so you can go to your next concert?”
Olivo’s announcement comes two days after three theater unions – SAG-AFTRA, Actors’ Equity Association and American Federation of Musicians Local 802 – condemned workplace harassment and called on “every corporate Board of Directors should be deeply alarmed by credible reports of long-standing, repeated violent and aggressive harassing behavior by individuals who hold high positions within a company or on a production and exercise management power over subordinates.”
Though the unions did not name Rudin, the statement followed last week’s Hollywood Reporter story detailing allegations by four former employees of Rudin about what they say is the producer’s volatile and sometimes violent behavior. The employees described a toxic workplace environment in which the famously temperamental producer repeatedly berated, verbally, and in at least one case, physically, abused and fired assistants. The article included accounts of Rudin throwing objects like a potato, a tea cup, a stapler and a laptop during his temper tantrums and, in one case, allegedly smashed a computer monitor onto an assistant’s hand, necessitating a trip to the emergency room.
In her announcement today, Olivo, who won a Tony Award for her performance in the 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story, addressed her colleagues and peers: “What is your integrity saying you should do? You going to protect your pocket book and let people go to the emergency room, so you can go to your next concert?”