Musicals have been the bread and butter of Elmont-based BroadHollow Theatre Company, but over the past few days backstage drama following the company’s social-media post regarding the death of George Floyd has taken center stage.
The director, musical director and 18 cast members of “Curtains,” which was in virtual rehearsal for the eventual reopening of the company’s BayWay Arts Center in East Islip, resigned from the show following BroadHollow’s Facebook post late Tuesday. The post, which began, “At the Broadhollow Theater, we do not tolerate racism, violence or bullying of any kind,” also included the sentence “We in no way condone the apparent murder of George Floyd."
After a social-media backlash, BroadHollow deleted the post and on Wednesday issued another statement explaining that its Facebook account had been hacked. “The post last night were not BroadHollow’s words. Any comments or responses from the BroadHollow were not our words,” it read. “We woke up to a nightmare today. I apologize for the insensitive words on our page. If you know us at all you know we would never incite anger or hate.”
“The initial statement was frustrating in itself for a whole lot of people, but then to not take ownership of their statement or stand behind it for better or for worse” was a mistake, said "Curtains" musical director Ariann Miller Forella. “This would have given them an opportunity to reach out to a community of actors of color who so needed to hear support for them and they didn’t do that.”
BroadHollow’s follow-up post has also been deleted and the company has since remained quiet on social media. The theater’s owners did not respond to Newsday’s requests for comment.
Forella and the show's director separately withdrew from the production and then informed the cast via Zoom. “We told them we’re not asking you to join us and nobody will think any less of you if you stay with the show,” Forella said. The cast uniformly resigned.
“We were all of one accord,” said actor Daniel Schinina of Central Islip. “We all thought we can’t in good conscience support what was said. We support the movement. … People can mistype something or be misunderstood in a text. The deciding factor was their response.”
On Thursday, the cast issued a Facebook post addressed to BroadHollow’s owners stating: “We do not condone, endorse, or agree with the views and behaviors expressed by the management” adding, “We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and against systemic racial injustice.”