Broadway actress Karen Olivo has announced she won’t return to her starring role in the musical Moulin Rouge! in protest over Hollywood power producer Scott Rudin, who faces fresh accusations of workplace abuse and bullying.
“The silence about Scott Rudin… unacceptable,” Olivo said in an Instagram video posted Wednesday.
Karen Olivo said she won’t return to the role of Satine in Moulin Rouge! — which is based on the 2001 movie of the same name starring Nicole Kidman — when it resumes performances at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in New York. Olivo originated the part on Broadway when the musical debuted in 2019.
“Building a better industry is more important than putting money in my pockets. For all y’all who don’t hear me: the silence about Scott Rudin… unacceptable. Unacceptable,” she said.
“I don’t need to be on a stage. I need to be out here. People are more important than your pocketbook. That’s it. That’s all that needs to be said from here on out. I value humanity more. I want a theater industry that matches my integrity. Come on, ya’ll. It’s not here, obviously. Let’s go make it.”
Scott Rudin isn’t a producer on Moulin Rouge! but he is a dominant force on Broadway and in Hollywood. On Broadway, he has produced such box-office hits as The Book of Mormon, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the most recent Hello Dolly! revival starring Bette Midler.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical is forever indebted to @Karenolivo'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. pic.twitter.com/YfeVtKqWCv
— Moulin Rouge The Musical – Broadway (@MoulinRougeBway) April 14, 2021
Last week, The Hollywood Reporter published new accusations against Rudin from past assistants who allege the producer engaged in a pattern of abusive workplace behavior. They include an incident in which he allegedly smashed a computer monitor on an assistant’s hand and another in which he allegedly threw a stapler at an assistant and called him a “retard.”
Producer Megan Ellison subsequently accused Rudin of “abusive, racist, and sexist behavior,” saying the Reporter article “barely scratches the surface.”
Tales of Rudin’s tyrannical behavior are well-known in Hollywood and Broadway. But both industries looked the other way as his productions raked in big bucks and won awards galore. Celebrities lined up to work with him and he continued to collaborate with A-list filmmakers including Wes Anderson, Aaron Sorkin, and the Coen brothers.
Karen Olivo won a Tony Award for her performance in the 2009 revival of West Side Story. She was Tony-nominated for Moulin Rouge!