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A CRITIQUE OF THE CRITIQUE
It is the job of a reviewer to "call 'em like they see 'em." We cannot, however, let this article, which uses its brief eight paragraphs to seemingly accuse The Legacy Theatre of misogyny, sexism and racism, stand without a response ("Bullets Over Broadway: The show is lively if not timely," July 13).
When considering this musical for presentation, we did ponder the Woody Allen issue. Separating the art from the artist is a debate of the ages, but one which has risen to the forefront of our consciousness as favorite musicians, writers, actors, directors, artists have been exposed for problematic views or actions.
As an organization, and as individual humans, we must be mindful of who receives our attention and where we spend our money. But we feel it is unrealistic to completely remove these artists from the mainstream.
It is worth noting that the creation of a Broadway musical is the result of the talents and efforts of scores of individuals, not just one person. It was felt that this musical, which was nominated for six Tony Awards in the 2014 Broadway season, and based on an earlier Academy Award-winning film, was worthy of presentation for our central Illinois audiences – that its foolishness would provide a couple hours of goofy diversion. We think it succeeds in that mission.
The reviewer notes, "In response to a critique of the 2014 Broadway production, Chaz Wolcott, the director of the musical adaptation, seems to have made a conscious decision to cast Black actors as gangsters." We are unclear what critique Ms. Wicks is referring to; however, at The Legacy Theatre our "conscious decision" is to cast the most wonderfully talented individuals that we can, regardless of race.
The reviewer notes, "It feels wrong to fully enjoy a musical that portrays women in derogatory roles, like showgirls dressed provocatively as tigers, or to laugh at a cast of female characters depicted as flighty, alcoholic and promiscuous and use them as an escape from the pressing issues of our time." She fails to note that this musical is an equal-opportunity offender, as the male characters are written in an equally caricaturistic fashion as insensitive, dim-witted and adulterous. Not to mention, murderers.
In the end, we are proud of the show that we have created, and of the talents and tireless efforts of our cast and behind-the-scenes artists who have endeavored to bring it to the stage. We delight in the nightly laughter, applause and standing ovations of our audiences. We hope the takeaway from this article is Ms. Wicks' final sentence, "The show features impressive tap dancing, fabulous costumes, a wonderfully creative set design and a chance to support local arts, making it worthwhile to see it and visit the charming Legacy Theatre."
executive director, The Legacy Theatre
I am compelled to share that as a local theater parent I was disheartened that Springfield's wonderful Legacy Theatre chose to produce the Woody Allen work Bullets Over Broadway.
I often wonder the opportunities the daughter of actress and activist Mia Farrow might have seized if not considered sexual fodder by one of her fathers and subsequently trapped in a life of isolation by him.
From my insights into trauma as a survivor of gendered violence, a former social worker and educator, and a foster and adoptive mother, I can state with certainty that an older adoptee has special mental health and attachment needs that make them more vulnerable to exploitation.
Otherwise, these performances bring together so many people that I care about and admire, all of whom make Springfield's theater community an exceptional phenomenon that I am grateful for and proud to support.
The review is a slap in the face of all those involved with this amazing, funny, lighthearted show. The voices and dance skills are phenomenal. The scenery and costumes are gorgeous. Come see it for yourself, and you very well may be one of those giving a standing ovation for the amazing and oh-so-funny cast.