Broadway shows disrupted by activists calling show ‘whitewashing’

Last night’s performance of the musical on Broadway SpoonsA performance of Shayna Taub’s two-time Tony Award-winning musical about the women’s suffrage movement, which features Hillary Clinton among its producers, was briefly disrupted when a group of “radical lesbian feminists and anti-racists” unfurled a banner from the box seats near the stage.

During the show, as a sign reading “Suffs Is A White Wash” was being held up, several protesters in the back seats appeared to loudly chant the slogan and add “Cancel Suffs.” Based on cellphone video of the incident, the disturbance appears to have lasted for about 15-20 seconds before the protesters were removed from the back seats by theater staff without incident and the sign was removed.

As the sign was being removed, a stage employee announced over the venue’s sound system that the show would be briefly halted.

This was the second disruption to a Broadway show in the past four months: On March 15, climate activist group Extinction Rebellion brought Enemy of the PeopleA performance of “No Theatre on a Dead Planet” starring Jeremy Strong and Michael Imperioli was temporarily halted amid chants of “No Theatre on a Dead Planet.”

The banner was raised in Spoons included websiteOr the activist group, a website dedicated solely to criticizing what it says is the musical’s “washed-out, biased, and ultimately dangerous version of history.”

According to the website, “The show’s camouflage is a dangerous lie because it reinforces several ideas: that the suffrage movement was not deeply racist, that white women’s stories deserve to be the center of attention, and that white women are always aligned with progressive causes.”

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In reality, Spoons The musical deals explicitly with these issues, with one of the main dramatic conflicts emerging when Alice Paul, a white suffragette (played by Taub) who organized a major protest march in 1913 to demand women’s suffrage, is informed that Southern delegations of marchers will withdraw from the event if black suffragettes are allowed to join.

Nikki M. James as Ida B. Wells and the Sophs

Joan Marcos

Paul’s character reluctantly compromises by confining the black protesters to their own delegation at the back of the march, a decision that leads to an emotional confrontation with African-American activist and journalist Ida B. Wells, whose song “Wait My Turn” is one of the most iconic Tony Award-winning songs.

The important role that racism played in the women’s suffrage movement, and the contributions that black women made to the suffrage cause, constitute a prominent story in Spoonsas portrayed by Welles’ character and black activist Mary Church Terrell.

The show’s producers and creative team declined to specifically respond to the group’s complaints, with a production representative issuing a brief statement to Deadline saying, “We can confirm that this incident occurred during last night’s performance of Spoons“At no time were any company members or Music Box theater patrons in danger.”

Spoons The show opened on Broadway on April 18 at the Music Box, and received very positive critical reviews, 6 Tony Award nominations including Best Musical, and won two (Best Book and Best Original Score).

The musical has consistently achieved strong box office numbers, with attendance typically at or near sellout.

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