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Dear Broadway, Honestly, Why the Fuck Am I Even Here?

Welp, internet. I’ve hit my limit. It’s finally happened.

After five years running The Craptacular, and more years loving theater than I can accurately tally, I just cannot take another minute of Broadway’s sexist, misogynistic bullshit and stay silent. Just cannot be done.

Because guess what? Women make up close to 70% of your audience. Theater as a commercial enterprise literally doesn’t exist without women. And yet, every time I turn around, it seems like Broadway is going out of it’s way to make us feel unwelcome. To tell us we’re worthy of little more than the opportunity to fork over our hard-earned cash to buy your tickets.

Sometimes you’re just mounting generally sexist musicals, like Wonderland and Bullets Over Broadway (and, I hear, Honeymoon in Vegas). Other times charmers like John Why-the-Fuck-Are-You-Still-Writing Simon go about insulting little girl’s looks for kicks (turns out Little Red just wasn’t little and lithe enough for that dirty old man), while lovely gentlemen like Michael Riedel publish lovely little bon mots like this one:

Female empowerment is fine for daytime television, but it’s flesh-crawling in a musical.

Still other times it gets even worse, and producers and casting directors hire men who are confessed sex offenders — with a penchant for teenage girls — to take leading roles on Broadway without batting an eye.

And I’m supposed to keep giving you my money?

More and more I wish I could say ‘fuck no.’ Because honestly. Sometimes I don’t understand why I’m even here. Why I keep coming back for more in a space that is openly hostile to me just because I was born with a vagina and, 32-some-odd-years later, I continue to identify as a woman.

And worse, I don’t know how to change it. Other than this. Then calling it out.

Because I’m tired of being silent about it.

Tired of watching people like James Barbour sexually abuse little girls and then get high profile Broadway gigs. Tired of sitting back while men publish sexist shit in some of the most circulated papers in the country — and the world — and get applauded for being so hilariously witty and contrarian and whatever the fuck else you fuckers think Michael Riedel is. Tired of being told to brush it off, like I’m being oversensitive, when if you swapped the word “gay” in there for “female,” there’d be uproar. Tired of reading articles in the New York Times where men speculate about why women aren’t coming to the shows they’ve mounted — without a single woman in a prominent place on the creative or production teams — without bothering to interview them for the aforementioned articles they are writing. Tired of sitting down in my seat at the theater only to hear Frank Wildhorn’s show tell me that it’s the woman’s fault her marriage fell apart because she emasculated her poor unemployed husband when she got a job to support her family (Wonderland). Or turning on my television to watch a supposedly satirical musical refer to women as ‘frigid’ and ‘bitches’ without any aim of actually subverting those stereotypes for productive commentary (Galavant).

I’m tired of keeping your fucking shows afloat with my hard earned money — even when they dismiss me, or don’t tell my stories, or demean me — while you laugh all the way to the bank without promoting women in the ranks around you, Mssrs. Producers/Theater Owners/Artistic Directors. I’m tired of buying your papers and valuing your opinions on theater when you couldn’t find a single fucking female to talk to in an article where you talk about women seeing theater, or a single fucking female to edit your writers so they don’t say disgusting misogynistic bullshit in their columns.

So I’m just gonna keep on talking about it. I’m gonna be that girl. And I know already that it’s going to be annoying and exhausting. It’s a banner I’m really not in the mood to bear. But clearly no one else is going to do it. So I’ll be here just making noise. Maybe someday someone will hear me.

I bet the comments section on this post is going to be a bastion of really intelligent conversation, too. Can’t wait for that, either.


Addendum: And Also One More Thing About the James Barbour Situation

{ 77 comments… add one }

  • James Kennedy January 13, 2015, 11:20 pm

    I’ve been a fan of this blog since it’s early early days, and I could not be any more grateful to you for saying what desperately needs to be said. Thank you for writing diligently and specifically, and for using your platform to hold people accountable. Now I’m going to go and share this with as many people as I can. Please keep speaking out…people ARE listening. Y’all rock hard.

    • Sandelle January 15, 2015, 12:08 am

      Absolutely agree. Keep saying it loud and proud!

  • Seth Christenfeld January 13, 2015, 11:31 pm

    Can I start that intelligent conversation with a high five?

  • Anika January 13, 2015, 11:51 pm

    James Barbour starring in a role in which he plays an older man who seduces a much-younger woman who has disturbingly little agency, no less. Yikes.

    • JJ Glebe January 14, 2015, 5:22 am

      YES! To everything you said. To my shame, I never really thought about it that much, but you are totally right. I really hope this will grow, and wake some of our male theatre creators up.

    • kid_notorious January 14, 2015, 8:24 am

      A really uncharitable sod at BroadwayWorld joked that the new advertising slogan should be “Phantom: Typecasting Never Dies.”

  • Jake January 13, 2015, 11:55 pm

    This is very important. Often the creators of products and services (in this case live theatre) are all too willing to exploit the very demographics which sustain them. Remember when black patrons were relegated to the balconies for tickets they paid just as much for as whites?

    It is important, as consumers, to demand change in such industries– because they are at the end of the day beholden to their bottom line.

  • Sasha January 14, 2015, 12:03 am

    Well put. I don’t feel there is enough of a discussion these days about why females aren’t involved in the creative process as much as men. I definitely agree with much you talk about in this article and think it is worth getting mad over. I think the whole phantom thing is ridiculous and find the lack of female producer/writer/directors sad but i think the subject matters of shows is not too troublesome. Bullets Over Broadway was echo-ing a time in a America when feminism wasn’t as present and poked fun at Ellen wanting to get married and running back to be with David because it isn’t a message seen today. I didn’t find Honeymoon at all misoginistic or anti-feminist because if Betsy stood up and said “I’m going with (whatever Tony Danza’s characters name is) because I’m a strong and powerful woman,” there would be no story. Not every story can be pro-female empowerment like wicked because that isn’t what history is made of. Many women today can not get out of bad relationships or are blamed for things that aren’t their fault but can’t stand up for themselves, these things also make great stories.
    Would i like to see more female centric shows? yes. More female artistry on broadway? YES. But i think we have come a long way in the past couple decades and think we are on the right path without saying that every woman needs to be in control of her own life.

  • Alethea Bakogeorge January 14, 2015, 12:53 am

    I shared this piece on my Facebook page, received quite a response, and subsequently commented this, which I’d like to cross-post here:

    Here’s the thing–this (and the fact that it’s getting likes) and the Medium piece and all the commentary I’ve seen on social media MEAN SOMETHING. And I mean, I quoted [the second last paragraph of the piece] because it’s a sentiment that resonates very strongly with me. But clearly if it does, then that means that part of what The Mick is saying is false (and thankfully so): she doesn’t have to go it alone, there are other women and allies (myself included) willing and raring to bear the so-called banner with her. I see the women who are mad about Riedel. I see the women who are mad about Barbour. I see the women who consistently call out the lack of proper representation of women on Broadway stages and in regional theatre. I know that it’s not just one person–even though it can feel like it, it feels like we’re yelling into outer space and no one can hear us. And knowing that, I want there to be a better way for all these women and allies to organize and do something about it, and not be “that girl” by ourselves. I want us to be a bunch of “those girls” TOGETHER and be so loud that they can’t ignore us like they could individually. How do we do this?

    • Danielle January 14, 2015, 10:48 am

      Yes! I just recently posted a huge rant on facebook about this after seeing Honeymoon in Vegas. I work on Broadway, so I feel like I have so much to offer to this conversation, but it’s true – it feels like you’re yelling to an empty room.
      I personally believe the problem starts with writers – when it comes to playwrights/composers, Broadway is an incredible sexist community. I have so many specific personal experiences to back that up. When Broadway doesn’t let in female writers, it’s not letting in people who write good roles for women, and it’s not letting in people in the ultimate position of power to ask for more women to be hired in other jobs. I could go on about this for days, but here’s the link to a great article by Teresa Rebeck that pretty much covers it: https://patrickharmon100.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/pages_from_dramatistsir2014.pdf
      But long story short, Yes! I agree with you! There are other women willing to bear the banner as well, and we DO need to make a community out of it. Maybe starting an email list would be a good place to begin?

      • Tom Cavanaugh January 15, 2015, 8:23 am

        I was going to stay quiet… until “it starts with the writers”.. understand something…. the writer is battling their own set of double standards and harsh treatment that no one thinks about. Right now if you’re not a person of color with a story about Muslim oppression set in Afghanistan…. the theater development world doesn’t want to read you or give your story a chance! I wrote a play about what happens to a family after they lose a son in a school shooting where the mother and daughter are the alpha characters in the play, the show has won writing awards and has been developed in one of the best theater labs in the United States, guided by an Oscar winning writer and stood on its own in several workshop productions from L.A. to N.J. and still, with all that… NYC producers won’t even consider it. Reasons have ranged from it’s “too dramatic” to “it’s not a musical”, but either way… don’t blame the writers…. unless you’ve tried it… you don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s all about ticket buyers… in the end… they’re trying to figure out what appeals to ticket buyers… that’s how producers make their decisions.

        • Danielle January 17, 2015, 4:26 pm

          @Tom, you completely misunderstood me. I was not blaming the writers at all…I’m blaming the producers for not hiring female writers. I believe that if there are more female writers (which is further explained in the article I attached the link to), then more female-centric stories will be created, and more female performers will have opportunities to shine, etc. We’re in agreement here…writers are creating some great, thought-provoking stuff, and producers are choosing to not take risks with them. Sorry if that was unclear!

  • EllaRose Chary January 14, 2015, 1:34 am

    Thank you so much for writing this. I am so tired of leaving the theater thinking “is it too much to ask that the plot of this musical not entirely hinge on sexism?”

  • Adam807 January 14, 2015, 7:45 am


  • Liz Richards January 14, 2015, 8:39 am

    I wish I could have said this. I could try to write something but you’ve said everything I could say. It’s hard not to get frustrated and just give up on all of it.

  • Rebecca Caine January 14, 2015, 9:13 am


    Rise up, sisters!

  • Michael January 14, 2015, 9:18 am

    I’m not a fan of Broadway by any means, but I fully appreciate and support your stand here. All industries need people like you who are not shy about exposing and publicly condemning the sexist crap that still exists all over the world.

    Hats off to you, Mick…. keep up the loud voice and good work!
    Blessed be,

  • Karen Sabo January 14, 2015, 9:18 am

    Thank you. Saw On The Town recently. And the cast was amazingly talented, but the “entertainment” of most of the show depends on scantily clad female dancers. Not so entertaining anymore.

    • LBH January 14, 2015, 12:46 pm

      Wait, did we see the same show? Because the only time I saw “scantily clad dancers” was in the scenes where “dancers” we’re wearing dance attire to go to “dance class” or in the illicit club that was the 1940s equivalent of a strip club.

      On the Town is one of the only shows featuring female leads that aren’t tiny twig dancers and taking sexual agency. And in these scenes, it’s the men that end up in their skivvies. Oh, and the dream ballets where the ballet dancer is in a leotard and the male is shirtless.

      For being a 1940s musical, I feel that On the Town is one of the most current shows on Broadway–a sex comedy that features regular sized women and doesn’t shame any of the characters for actively seeking out what can only be one night stands.

      And it’s sad that we haven’t come further since the 1940s.

      • ARB January 14, 2015, 7:32 pm

        Also, I was very impressed by On the Town’s debunking of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope with the whole Ivy Smith plot line. Gabey spends the whole show chasing after this girl who he’s idealized, only to discover that she exists outside of his fantasy and is far from the perfectly feminine girl he’d dreamed up.

  • Zac Hoogendyk January 14, 2015, 9:46 am

    If you want help carrying the banner, let me know. I’m with you.

  • Julian Silverman January 14, 2015, 9:49 am

    Lysistrata Jones is what really stuck out for me. Smh.

    • Nate January 14, 2015, 1:21 pm

      Ben Brantley’s original Next to Normal review:
      “Mr. Yorkey’s script will also seem familiar to anyone who has watched the Lifetime channel’s inspirational dramas about mothers and daughters on the brink of sanity. (Since Lifetime is ‘television for women,’ the fathers and sons tend to suffer on the sidelines.)”

  • Daniel January 14, 2015, 9:52 am

    well said!! and the sad thing is that the majority of the people in the comments section on various websites, are thrilled to have not only a rapist but a pedo playing the Phantom. it’s incredible how people can defend or support these type of people. i hope the cast will oppose to this casting.

  • Janna January 14, 2015, 10:01 am

    Perhaps the very worst thing is leaving the theater complaining to my friends about the points mentioned in this post, and getting responses like “you’re reading too far into it” and “why can’t you just chill out and enjoy? It’s just a musical.” If we love musicals enough to shell out fucktons of money for them, we should love them enough to hold them to a higher standard. Or at least hold them responsible for openly insulting the majority of their audience.

    Thank you for writing this. It’s been said before, but I get a feeling it’ll only work when we’re too loud and educated to ignore.

    • LRY January 14, 2015, 10:58 am

      Like it’s “just a movie” or “just a song” or “just a TV show.” Pop culture IS culture, and influences our behavior. The media we choose to consume is rarely ever “just” anything.

    • jenny January 14, 2015, 8:02 pm

      Yes x1000 Janna! Don’t ever tell me to chill out about how your “art” effected me. It’s not an accident and we can’t just sit by.

  • Ryan January 14, 2015, 10:13 am

    Great article. Love keeping the conversation going on race and gender. If we don’t peel back the carpet, we don’t expose the problems. Thank you!

  • Georgia Stitt January 14, 2015, 10:22 am

    I couldn’t agree more with your point, and I hope you’ll check out The Lilly Awards and the work we are trying to do on behalf of women in theater. And I also hope you’ll see HONEYMOON IN VEGAS before you take a potshot at it. You may or may not be right, but certainly it pains me to see my husband’s show lumped into this category when he himself is such a prominent voice in making sure women’s voices are heard. Thanks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuUmEbywPO0

    • Lauren January 15, 2015, 12:55 pm

      Jason Robert Brown is no advocate for women. He has never written a woman for the stage that wasn’t an accessory to a man and I doubt he ever will. But if we’re being candid? I’ve heard him calling women who audition for him undesirable, fat, mocking and laughing at them for their clothes and style, all without making a single comment on their talent or the content of their audition. I will never respect him and many women in this industry are well aware of the way he behaves, but are too scared to ever say anything about it for fear of harming their ability to work.

      • Eric S. January 15, 2015, 6:03 pm

        I am in no position to comment on Jason Robert Brown’s behavior at auditions which, if true – and I trust that it is, is repugnant. I would, though, like to comment on this line: “never written a woman for the stage that wasn’t an accessory to a man.” The character of Lucille Frank in PARADE, while not the “main” character is hardly a bauble. Without her actions which are admittedly defined by historical fact, PARADE would have been a “one-act.” In the few depictions of this story that preceded the stage musical, Lucille was basically a walk-on role. Uhry and Brown gave her a story arc of growth and dignity and a voice that begins timid and unsure and ends defiant and dedicated. Now if your are about to respond, “But she was doing it all for a man,” just stop. Of course she was doing some of it for a man, but she was also doing it for a woman, herself. This isn’t anything that the facts dictate, this is a detail and sensibility that can only be attributed to the writers of this show. An approach that had been, in previous depictions, deemed unimportant or, quite simply, ignored.

        That said, going back to the description of Brown’s behavior, I must applaud you for having the chutzpah (“balls” just didn’t seem like the best choice in this case) for saying it, for calling him out, because it really is demeaning, dismissive dehumanizing and deplorable. Do I have any more “D” words? Yes. What a DICK!

  • Teresa January 14, 2015, 10:25 am

    I couldn’t agree more with you.
    Regarding Phantom, I was outraged by some of the comments on certain forum you all know “get over it, he served his time, let the man do his job, etc” I can’t even..
    I’ll make noise with you!

  • susan atwood January 14, 2015, 10:27 am

    *slow clap*

  • Jonas January 14, 2015, 10:58 am

    just to focus on Jim Barbour for a second, so does this mean that you feel Jim should not be allowed to be cast in anything ever again? If so, I disagree with that part of things. At what point is someone done paying for their crime? Surely the life of both victim and perpetrator should both be allowed to continue eventually, no? Otherwise Michael Jackson, Charlie Sheen, Chris Brown, Paula Poundstone, Roman Polanski, and I daresay a host of other celebrities who have committed sex crimes should be punished indefinitely by never being allowed to work at all ever in any capacity. What would be a fitting final punishment in your view? I’m truly curious.

    • the mick January 14, 2015, 12:45 pm

      To be honest, I don’t think Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, et al., should have continued to rake in the big bucks in the wake of the crimes they committed. But they’re not in the scope of this conversation right now.

      So, when it comes to James Barbour– Yes, I absolutely do believe he shouldn’t be cast in anything ever again.

      A teacher who committed the same kinds of offenses, and had the same mark on his or her record, would never be allowed in a classroom again. You know how I know that? Because I know someone who ruined his teaching career that way. I also know someone whose teaching career was ruined by the mere accusation of inappropriate touching– no plea, no conviction, just the accusation.

      Barbour needs to support himself, sure — I certainly don’t want to support him — but he can do that in another career. Preferably one where he does not work with teenagers or children, or walk out a stage door every night to throngs of adoring young people who may or may not understand his history and know how to protect themselves. There are office jobs on this planet, as an example.

      There are choices we can make as humans — be they mistakes or otherwise — that can ruin our lives. That we can’t come back from. That’s life.

      To put more women and children at risk is just unconscionable to me.


      • Joe January 14, 2015, 2:13 pm

        I certainly don’t intend to defend Barbour by saying this, but I do think that your teacher example is completely different. A teacher is, legally, a guardian of those children in his or her care, and there are defined parameters for those relationships.

        • the mick January 14, 2015, 2:31 pm

          An adult is always an adult and a child is always a child. Whether the adult is in a position of legal guardianship or not they are always the more responsible party.

          Additionally, Barbour himself specifically used the word “mentor” to describe his relationship to the victim, which… okay, maybe that’s not a legal designation either. But it’s that much closer to being a teacher, and it’s certainly a position that creates an even bigger imbalance of authority and power between the two.

          And frankly, I personally would have just as much issue if this wasn’t with a child. To me, while the age of the victim is relevant here, it’s not the only factor. Someone who committed a sexual offense with an adult would make me uncomfortable as well, and I’ve seen that impact people’s career options going forward too. A crime was committed. To put the person right back in the same circumstances that resulted in the first offense seems like a huge risk and one I find morally suspect for these producers to take.


          • Eric January 15, 2015, 1:20 am

            It’s not like James Barbour denies what he did was wrong. It happened 14 years ago, and he served 60 days for his misdemeanor charge for sexual contact of a minor as well as having 3 years probation. You say he should never be able to act ever again, but that just seems ludicrous given that in the 14 years since his last offense he has had a clean record as far as we know. This isn’t some serial child molester who avoided justice or something, and he didn’t “sexually abuse little girls,” as you say in the article. He touched a single 15-year-old girl inappropriately once in 2001, and went to trial where he was convicted and served time and subsequently never reoffended again. But apparently now no one should ever hire him again.

            If the entire point of the prison and justice system is to rehabilitate criminals, it seems that the only way that can be successful is if society gives them second chances.

      • Craig January 14, 2015, 2:40 pm

        What other people do with their lives is not for you to say. What jobs they take is not your business. In fact, if it offends you that someone pays for their crime and moves on with their life, then I would gladly show you the door to leave the community. Not saying anything he did was right, but when you do your time, you do your time. I’m sure no one forgot what his actions were.

        It’s kind of sick that anyone would say “I should be able to tell you what you should do for work.” Who are you anyway?

        • Jonas January 14, 2015, 3:21 pm

          Craig I think that’s well stated. Mick I understand how lives and careers can be forever altered and/or ruined by shameful acts and that perhaps that’s life as you said. I question the need to punish someone in perpetuity. The legal authorities were involved and the offender was tried and convicted and sentence carried out. To bar Jim from ever working in his chosen profession again seems like us being self-appointed arbiters of what kind of justice should be doled out after the law has already done its job. Just to focus on this part of things for a bit…If Jim were your son or husband or father or anyone who was very close to you personally and that you loved very much, would that alter your view on their fate in any way? Or do you feel that even the person you loved the most should be barred from their chosen profession and not allowed to ever come back from a mistake like this? What if your own career were ruined by the mere suggestion of inappropriate contact? Should you also be punished in perpetuity and barred from your profession? I’m just not sure I see the validity in that. I remain curious though.

  • susie hooper January 14, 2015, 11:27 am

    s “Anybodys” in the west coast launch of the national touring co. of west side, and in the same of birdie. but now how things have changed. LISTEN TO THIS SPOKESPERSON…

  • Rebeca Rad January 14, 2015, 11:47 am

    “I just cannot take another minute of Broadway’s sexist, misogynistic [,RACIST] bullshit and stay silent…”

  • jeffrey January 14, 2015, 11:55 am

    an important discussion unfortunately reduced to a silly screed. 4 weeks of ‘wonderland’ negates 11 years of ‘wicked’? john simon (where does he even write anymore?) eclipses elizabeth vinentelli as lead critic at the post or blake ross as chief editor of playbill? the lack of women in creative positions at ‘the last ship’ overrides diane paulus and julie taymore and pam mackinnon? and broadway is inherently misogynistic because they chose to cast james barbour? there are definitely gender inequalities that need to be challenged but this isn’t the piece that cracks it with any nuance.

    • Daniel January 14, 2015, 2:32 pm

      the two things are related. btw, would you allow a teacher who molested a child/teenager in a classroom? no. would you allow a rapist(of a teenager)/actor to work side by side with a teen actress and women? no. if you’re a decent human being, thats the answer.

    • the mick January 14, 2015, 2:36 pm

      Sometimes it takes some outrage and uproar to get the nuanced conversation started.

      And while you sited some great examples of places where women have been given power, or have been featured in a positive light by the material on stage, it feels more like you’re citing exceptions that prove the rule than statistics that soundly refute the argument I’m presenting here.


      ps. It seems worth noting that Wicked is not just a show about the relationship between two women, but an incredibly successful and lucrative property. Producers might want to take some lessons from Wicked, instead of trying to foist more Hands on a Hardbody/Rocky: Das Musicals on us.

      • Ragedoesnothing January 15, 2015, 10:36 am

        Your comments in the main have so much merit, but the accompanying noise and inchoate, misplaced rage undermine them. Re: Jim Barbour – I do not know him personally, but I am familiar with his case – I won’t bother you with the details; clearly you’ve no need of them since, as my father used to say (oops, sorry, no… my mother, yeah my MOTHER used to say!) re: someone who remains obdurate when faced with facts, “mind like a stone wall; all mixed up and firmly set”. Jim Barbour, to the best of my knowledge, admitted to his crime, did his time, and his record shows no indication of a pattern of behavior that renders him a threat to anyone going forward. Better still, I am wryly amused by your using a “nom de slur” to hurl invective at someone by name. Your anonymity renders your “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” dudgeon as weak tea at best.

        • the mick January 15, 2015, 11:12 am

          I don’t believe that rage negates an argument, nor does it have to undermine one. But it can start a conversation — or amplify one.

          I also don’t believe I’m anonymous. At least not to anyone who bothers to look.


  • Sarah Roseberry January 14, 2015, 12:08 pm

    Fuck. Yeah.

  • Trish January 14, 2015, 12:18 pm

    You go girl! I go the theater quite a bit and have seen Phantom at least three times, bringing visitors with me to their first Broadway show. Never again.

  • Shane January 14, 2015, 12:28 pm

    I think the dismissive attitude towards women that crops up in Broadway is symptomatic of a broader social phenomenon, but that doesn’t mean that Broadway can’t (or shouldn’t) strive to be part of the solution especially given most of the ticket buyers are women (as you point out).

    There are shows that attempt to be more appealing/friendly to women (Wicked, Bridges of Madison County, If/Then, the upcoming revival of The Heidi Chronicles) that have met with varying degrees of commercial success. Broadway, for everything else it is, is still a business and if we support the behavior we want to see more of (through our own ticket buying habits and our word-of-mouth influence) while calling out people and groups who fall short then we help steer Broadway in the right direction.

  • Talia January 14, 2015, 12:41 pm

    Thank you! All of my friends are raving about “Galavant” and saying it’s funny and witty. When I respond it’s laden with misogyny, I’m told, “That’s the point. They’re making fun of how things used to be.”

    Sorry, no. Sexism is not funny. Period.

    I appreciate you calling Broadway and similar venues out on this.

    • Cynthia January 14, 2015, 1:56 pm

      Talia: sexism is hilarious. (Didn’t you see 9 to 5??) But sexism, as opposed to the victims of sexism, should be the target of the joke.

  • Broadway For Justice January 14, 2015, 12:51 pm

    We just wanted to say we are completely behind you and are proud to help carry the banner for women on Broadway. Let’s make noise about this. Let’s be loud. They can’t keep ignoring us.

  • Frank January 14, 2015, 1:20 pm

    A great article for the theatre of the USA, and most everywhere else too in fact. In spite of the 80’s and Caryl Churchill, Sara Kane et al. the theatre continues to be run by men. If theatre reflects the culture that produces it, we have a whole discussion here. There are demographics of all kinds to take into account for the state of American writing in general perhaps, but Broadway is the banner and shows the guts of the culture, whether it is a positive image or not. Commercial or not, the producers make the call and it is the means of production that finalize the images.
    Keep the discussion going, keep changing the reason to make theatre. Thank you for having “…had enough!”

  • YES January 14, 2015, 1:33 pm

    Someday I plan on writing a memoir entitled, “The Misogyny of Broadway.” Until I am no longer employed in this world, PLEASE, oh PLEASE, keep writing about this topic. It needs a voice ASAP.

  • Robbie Rozelle January 14, 2015, 1:33 pm

    I do think it important to point out that Frank Wildhorn is only a music writer, and not the lyricist or book writer of his shows, so Wonderland’s atrocities should also be attributed to Jack Murphy and Gregory Boyd.

  • Joe January 14, 2015, 2:35 pm

    While I 100% agree that Broadway is an extremely sexist industry (and, yes, it’s an industry), I disagree that women are the sole victims of prejudice. And I think that you are being completely unfair when you say “if you swapped the word “gay” in there for “female,” there’d be uproar” when referring to Riedel’s “female empowerment” nonsense (has he not seen “Wicked”, by the way?)

    Here is the reality of those who are employed on the Great White Way:

    — It’s overwhelmingly white.
    — It’s overwhelmingly male.
    — The stories that get told are generally about white males.
    — The producers are overwhelmingly white, straight, and wealthy.
    — The theatre owners are all white and male.
    — The plays and musicals are almost always about heterosexuals, despite the disproportionate number of gay men that work in the industry, and pay for tickets.
    — Homophobic jokes in shows are just as common as sexist ones.

    So let’s absolutely rally, and fly the flag for a little diversity on Broadway – but let’s not be confused that the fight for equality for white women is anything other than a small step toward the need for a Broadway that doesn’t look like a Westchester country club.

    • the mick January 14, 2015, 2:42 pm

      No denying that diversity in general is an issue. It just wasn’t one I was able to do justice within the scope of this article.

      I do agree with your points, though.

      Thanks for sharing!


    • Anne January 14, 2015, 8:39 pm

      Plays and musicals are almost always about heterosexuals because they represent about 90% of the general population. I’d wager a guess that at least 10% of Broadway shows feature gay storylines.

      You want to talk about disproportionate to ticket sales? Women represent 70% of Broadway audiences, 51% of the population, and more white gay male playwrights have won the Tony for Best Play in the last 10 years than the number of women who have won in the entire 68 years of the Tony Awards.

      When it comes to Broadway, white, gay and male is part of the Westchester Country Club. And if you have a problem with the homophobic jokes, ask the white gay male director, book writer and lyricist why they all left it in.

      • Joe January 15, 2015, 12:03 pm

        I don’t entirely disagree with you, Anne. However:

        “Plays and musicals are almost always about heterosexuals because they represent about 90% of the general population. ”

        But heterosexuals don’t make up 90% of the Broadway audience, I wouldn’t think.

        “More white gay male playwrights have won the Tony for Best Play in the last 10 years than the number of women who have won in the entire 68 years of the Tony Awards.”

        I am not going to argue the merits of the Tony Award, but if that’s the bar by which we measure success, God help us. Moreover, in the past ten years, I count three gay male playwrights, and one female playwright as winners of best play – and not one of those winners with a gay theme. Does that sound like the 10% that you mention above?

        “When it comes to Broadway, white, gay and male is part of the Westchester Country Club.”

        Oh, Anne, I can’t bear the “my oppression is worse than yours” argument. The reality is that women are underrepresented in many facets of the business. But take a good look at a list of producers on Broadway right now – majority white, majority female, majority straight.

        The gays are always invited to sing and dance, but they don’t get to run the show…

  • Strangebride January 14, 2015, 2:43 pm

    As I sit here, working part time as a part time employed theatre director and writer, listening to my baby cry, I feel punished for being a woman in this business. Thank you for writing so eloquently what I feel every day. Fucking White Men. Sigh.

  • Corine Cohen January 14, 2015, 3:21 pm

    I agree with most of what you say. I too, get the brush off from Broadway and I am glad you wrote this article. I wouldn’t have the balls and I don’t. You, do!

  • Broadwayshowbiz January 14, 2015, 3:26 pm

    I agree with much of what you say. You have every right to be angry. I get angry, often. As a woman site owner, I find I am not invited to the “BOYS CLUB” because I am not male. I do wish things would change because it is frustrating. For women in all of theater.
    I love Broadway and Theater and know I would be treated differently, if I was a man. Thanks for writing this. I never had the balls to do so. You, do!

  • Brad January 14, 2015, 3:31 pm

    You use the term “sex offender” when referring to the latest announced Phantom. While it’s not unreasonable to believe he is that, the newest Phantom is indeed not a sex offender. He confessed to “endangering the welfare of a minor”, which is a misdemeanor. He served time in prison for that crime and completed a long probation period. As others have exacerbated the misinformation by stating he is a pedo or rapist, which are also not true, the hate and rage is perpetuated to a degree that isn’t fair. Or at least it may not be fair. We don’t know the details of what happened or the details of why the charges were not brought until many years after the incident. We also don’t know why the plea deal was offered or why it was accepted. I don’t care or mind if you are very unhappy about the latest Phantom casting, but I think when exclaiming how evil a person is, it should be done with more care. Misinformation, or exaggerations of the truth, hurt far more than just the principle target.

  • Kelley January 14, 2015, 3:44 pm

    A very well written article that outlines so many of the problems in theatre community today, not just on Broadway, but regionally, in the fringe scene, and so many other places. Thank you!

  • John Britton January 14, 2015, 4:13 pm

    Well I’m white. And male. And pretty much straight. But I could not agree more. The ‘cultural industry’ is an industry, not a culture. It is run by those with wealth and power for those with wealth and power. We might participate ( even make crucial contributions to) the work of ‘big culture’, but we do not own it and it is not for us. It is, I guess, in the cracks between ‘official’ and ‘industrial’ culture that real art flourishes….

  • Daniel Jacobs January 14, 2015, 5:07 pm

    Well, one show seems to be breaking the mold. FUN HOME is written by incredible women (Tesori, Kron, Bechdel) and the story explores the life of an incredible female lead character. When’s the last time a musical was based on a novel by a woman, with music, lyrics and book by women? Not to mention, it is one of the best new musicals of the decade….

  • Emily January 14, 2015, 5:42 pm

    I hear ya. Been singing this song for years now. Glad to see you’re getting some response! (Here’s a thing I wrote about this a few years ago about Why I Still Give a Shit – even though it’s clearly crazy to.) https://artiststruggle.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/why-i-still-give-a-shit-what-they-do-on-broadway/

  • Guerrilla Girls On Tour January 14, 2015, 5:50 pm

    Tell it! Tell it like it is Craptacular!

  • Destiny January 14, 2015, 6:27 pm

    I think you have written a thought-provoking piece that scratches the surface of the issues revolving around female representation on stage. The problem with changing anything is that money trumps everything. If you were to organize a boycott of selected shows or theatre companies and were able to get widespread support, that would make a difference. You can’t expect anything to change if women are still buying tickets. Stop buying tickets, start seeing change.

  • Jamie January 14, 2015, 6:50 pm

    Thank you for this! I discovered your blog about a year ago and have loved your whip-smart, honest, and always hilarious perspective on Broadway. And this is a MUCH needed conversation – so cheers to you for speaking up.

  • Benjamin Doyle January 14, 2015, 6:52 pm


    I only have one issue with your article – you seem to think that writers for the New York Post actually qualify as journalists. Let me assure you that addressing them as such will only encourage them.

  • Former Teacher January 14, 2015, 8:14 pm

    I have directed high school musicals for years. At the high school I directed at the girls far outweighed the boys at every year’s auditions. It took so long to find an age appropriate musical with enough female parts and not too many male parts. I do not understand why someone cannot begin to write musicals for mostly women and a few men or at the very least equal parts.

  • Caron Smith January 14, 2015, 8:25 pm

    This is how I feel about the movies. I am tired of giving my money to stories that don’t include women or female characters. It is my hope that if we support movies that reflect female lives and acknowledge that women comprise half the world, then more movies like that will be made.

  • Anonyous January 14, 2015, 9:00 pm

    “Dear Broadway, Honestly, Why the Fuck Am I Even Here?”

    A question I ask myself every time I stumble on this piss-poor excuse for a blog.

  • Cindy Cooper January 14, 2015, 10:22 pm

    Love this post! Yvette Heyliger — theater person and activist — launched a petition for equitable funding for women in govt-funded arts programs. This wouldn’t affect most of Broadway, but it would close a gap in the law and mandate that arts programs that get taxpayer money must follow principles of gender equity. It’s a start! Sign it please — http://tinyurl.com/krknbt4

    Need 100,000 people to sign by Feb 6. More on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/events/765365980178622/

  • Sherrie January 14, 2015, 10:55 pm

    Encore! The content in every culture shapes every culture. The world is led by men–look at the UN, most governments, most financial institutions, most educational institutions and all relitious institutions. If, and it is a monstrously huge if, we can start changing culture by changing the balance of content on Broadway we will have progress. I for one want it. Can we retire all references to “The Great White Way”? For the record I am white and I work in the arena of sports team’ racist identities. The statistics on ownership and race in Sports, the disparity in gender incomes and prominence are as bad as those in Entertainment. Maybe we women should stage a boycott of both for a full year and then see how much attention is paid to us?

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