#metoo

‘West Side Story' Opening Night Draws Theater-Goers But Also #MeToo Protesters

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A new revival of the Broadway classic "West Side Story" made history on its opening night but it also drew a crowd of protesters.

Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside Broadway Theatre in Midtown on Thursday, calling for one of the show's lead actors, Amar Ramasar, to be fired over his alleged involvement in a nude photo sharing scandal at the New York City Ballet.

While a record of 33 young people made their Broadway debuts that night, people outside chanted: "What do we want? Amar gone. When do we want it? Now."

Ramasar was among two New York City Ballet dancers who were fired then rehired last year after they were named in a lawsuit by a former student at the company's affiliated school.

Alexandra Waterbury said the dancers shared nude photos of women, as well as sexually explicit texts, and that City Ballet tolerated a "fraternity-like atmosphere" where male dancers understood that "they could degrade, demean, mistreat and abuse, assault and batter women without consequence."

The revelation came amid other #MeToo stories that helped transformed cultural norms surrounding sexual harassment and the treatment of women.

Protests outside the theater initially began on Jan. 31 and continued weekly up until the show's opening night.

"We want accountability. We just want people who have done something very wrong, violated others, to not be rewarded," one of the protest organizers, Paige Levy, told NBC New York on Thursday.

Nearly 50,000 have signed a Change.org petition for "West Side Story" to fire the 38-year-old from his role as Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks gang and older brother of lead character Maria.

"There is no reason why someone who has taken advantage of his power and violated countless women, while stating his intent to violate more, should be able to show his face onstage," the petition reads.

A spokesperson for the Broadway show, Rick Miramontez, told the New York Times that the production hired a cybersecurity firm for actors who were concerned about online attacks.

In response, the Actors' Equity Association, an actor's union, released a statement Thursday saying in part, "Everyone at West Side Story should be able to work and perform feeling safe and protected in their workplace."

Protest organizers say that the demonstrations aren't intended to harass other actors and that they simply want justice for Waterbury.

"We fully support the rest of the company and crew of the show. We’re outside because of Amar Ramasar’s actions and the production team’s choice to hire and stand by him," organizers said on Twitter.

Copyright NBC New York
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