B’way Composer Stephen Schwartz Bans WICKED, All Other Works From Being Put On In NC Over Anti-LGBT Law

Stephen Scwartz Pulls Wicked from North Carolina

Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz who has written such hit musicals as Godspell (1971), Pippin (1972) and Wicked (2003) is refusing to allow any of his musical productions to be put on in North Carolina because of its recently passed anti-LGBT law HB2 and is asking all other Broadway composers and agencies to do the same.

Via BroadwayWorld.com

“To my fellow theatre writers and producers: As you no doubt know, the state of North Carolina has recently passed a reprehensible and discriminatory law. I feel that it is very important that any state that passes such a law suffer economic and cultural consequences, partly because it is deserved and partly to discourage other states from following suit.

“Therefore, I and my collaborators are acting to deny the right to any theatre or organization based in North Carolina to produce any of our shows. We have informed our licensing organizations and touring producers of this, and I’m happy to say have met with compliance and approval from them.

“In the 1970’s, I, along with many other writers and artists, participated in a similar action against apartheid in South Africa, and as you know, this eventually proved to be very effective.

“If you are in agreement, you may want to join me in refusing to license our properties to, or permit productions of our work by, theaters and organizations in North Carolina until this heinous legislation is repealed.

“Thank you for considering this.”

An important lesson for North Carolina: No one mourns the wicked.

 

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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68 Responses

  1. Susan says:

    The arts educators in NC and young students of the arts are not the folks who should suffer because of the bigotry in our state. We provide musical theatre in schools so that we can enlighten, educate and provide an outlet and safe place for expression in a state that doesn’t seem to value education or the arts. I don’t believe for a second that “NC” cares whether or not Wicked comes to town. I do know that we educators are now unable to explore Stephen’s shows with our youth. I MD’d Godspell last winter. My partner directed Godspell two years ago. He was planning to do Pippin this year with high schoolers, but now they’ll miss out. Their parents don’t care… Neither will the government.

    • Ty says:

      Hopefully, this experience will help kids and their theatre teachers and sponsors to become active in the politics surrounding them.

    • Dearest Susan, When confronted with a brick wall that is too high to climb, too long to circumvent, and blasting is not an option, you go the only route you know and step away from it allowing it to collapse under its own weight. Thirty eight years ago I performed in the choral version of Godspell. Last year, my son performed the musical lead at The University of Maine. I’m truly sorry that your students will suffer this loss. That said, Mr. Schwartz need not shoulder any fault, though I’m certain he took this into consideration, it is your state government’s decision. Teach the magic of the shows to them, even if they cannot perform them and they will learn. Artists thrive on their own yearning, and theater artists are exceptional at propelling change. My Best To You and Your Students. ~ dmtimney

    • Nick says:

      no disrespect but like high schools arent allowed to put on wicked ANYWAY so…? theyre not suffering lol. i dont see how this is going to be supereffective, but if i had the illusion of power over my own writing id probably do the same thing (i think its funny that in his letter he considers his musicals “culture”, not that theyre not but like… mr. sondheim your hubris is showing). its not like musical theatre isnt exclusive anyhow, tickets to see a damn show are like a hundred bucks so… i dont see how this is such a wrongdoing, i dont really see it as a rightdoing either bc i sincerely doubt musicals are the forefront of north carolinas economy–the people passing the laws prolly wanted to get rid of the shows anyhow. it wont really change anything except some shows wont be in north carolina, and its such a niche crowd that loves that stuff anyhow it only effects the lives of the ppl looking for a good time in north carolina–and if youre looking for a good time why are you living in north carolina anyhow hahahaha

      • galindathegood91 says:

        A minor note… this is Mr. Schwartz, not Mr. Sondheim. And it is not hubris to say he does not wish his shows to be performed in a state that allows business owners to discriminate against him, seeing as he is gay. So, yes, if this starts with Wicked and moves on it makes people like start to fight these types of moronic laws by going to the voting box, then this is a good thing. One of the reasons this type of bill did not pass in Georgia is because Disney along with a couple of other large companies were going to pull out of the state. A revolt against hatred has to start somewhere

      • lamargopetersen says:

        Considering “Wicked” is the precursor to the Wizard of Oz, I don’t understand their reasoning. Well I guess there is no reasoning!

    • John Blomberg says:

      You need to appeal to your legislators, not the composer/lyricists. They shouldn’t be legislating hate.

    • Jeff says:

      Oh, Susan. Then SPEAK UP and have others do the same to end discrimination. Besides, he’s not banning the TEACHING of his works in a classroom setting. Just the performance of them.

    • Peter says:

      Dear Susan…. Fuck off. If the man wants to deny the homophobic state of NC the enlightenment of experiencing his art then let him. He has every right to protest. I can’t even believe that in this day and age laws like this are still being passed. For you to say that NC doesn’t care isn’t helping the cause. Clearly they don’t care, which is why the fucking law was passed. So why let them still benefit from his art? They made their bed so let them sit in it. His work is incredible. Why should this community be rewarded? NC has put out a very clear message here so let them sit alone, and if they have a problem with this THEN SPEAK UP PEOPLE OF NC! I will not be spending any of my money in NC until they lift this law. Good for you Stephen!!! I’m proud that you’re taking a stand and I will travel out of state to see your work and invest my money in those states where the Government doesn’t discriminate.

      • SweetD says:

        what a completely douche bag reply to Susan why don’t you fuck off Peter you fucking TWAT

      • Jim says:

        Wow, you’re really making your cause appear to everyone with your foul language and intolerance. You’re response and attitude is enough to push someone to the other side of this argument. Try using grownup words and express your position like an adult.

      • gemmalini says:

        Peter, this is why people have problems communicating with each other when their beliefs are different. Telling people who disagree with you to “F off” doesn’t help anyone come to any sort of understanding, or help people empathize with each other. All you’re doing encouraging people to react defensively and put their guard up, instead of letting themselves be open to change. For real – try harder.

      • Cal says:

        Yet you buy gas everyday from countries who kill people for homosexuality. Funny how people pick and choose who to support, all the while they are still going against themselves.

    • Oscar says:

      Unfortunately the kids will miss out. But this bigotry has to stop. These future leaders has to be taught now that there are consequences to taking on these ridiculous laws like this

    • Pamela Leigh Wadden says:

      I believe you are wrong there, Susan! The government WILL care, not because of the students’ loss, but for political and monetary reasons. This , if followed up by other producers/composers/theatre leaders will work to shun NC as they are shunning the vulnerable humans their new laws are discriminating against! Nothing from nothing gets nothing….but a show of solidarity from many garners results!

    • Raven Wood says:

      VOTE THE BIGOTS OUT! Then you can have theatre.

    • Mark Hodges says:

      To all those who are upset with this article you need to understand what we as a group need to do to win. This is no different than when we tossed Coors Beer out of our bars and when we stopped eating Chic Fil A! The amount of money that NC will lose over this hate bill will get the job done! It only two a few weeks for Coors to cave in and a month or so for Chic Fil A. President Obama is talking about cutting off Federal Funds and many other origination’s standing with us are talking about not buying products made in NC. When you hit a republican in the wallet things change and pretty quickly! Just give it time things will change because of steps taken like this one!

    • Sadly, sometimes, the innocent must suffer for the common good. The end goal is that students who are being denied the opportunity to perform must be the loudest voices against the sort of discrimination foisted upon them by the actions of their “elders.” It is the students who, when they can visit the ballot box, must ensure their vote prevents this action from occurring to the next generation of students.

    • Chris Channing says:

      So teach them. Use the time to educate them about the glories of the non discriminatory culture(s) around the world- Having them stand up and sing or dance in-front of people at the end of it is neither hear nor there.
      ….
      — Teach them about the movers and the shakers …and not the dancers.
      http://www.amazon.com/The-Movers-Shakers-Activists-Sixties/dp/0875991661

  2. enness says:

    What a bully! Please, you are not the Rosa Parks of public bathrooms. The more rigid, inflexible, and intolerant you are, the more you prove the need for laws to protect dissenters…way to go.

    • Alan says:

      Sometimes in life. You find the only action to be had is the withholding of your work, your talent, your services. It comes into every life a moment when you have to protest against acts such as this. I think you’ve miss directed the accusation of bullying at the wrong person.

    • Not a bully but did exactly what you want . He went away . Aren’t you proud of N. Carolina. I know I am. I’m a married straight white woman that hates bigotry and self serving politicians. So I will also let you know I also will never be back.

  3. I disagree with Susan above. The young students that might be affected are the very voters or soon to be voters who will understand that they must vote for change in their state. And if this boycott spread then event the ‘parents that don’t care’ will notice.

  4. Wendy Wood says:

    Would it be possible to provide a scripted opening to every school that wants to produce the show. It must be read at the beginning of every show and contains information about this issue. This could educate and expose people to this injustice.

  5. gesrtrete says:

    you are correct in that its not fair for individuals to suffer but there is no way around this when it is the governments doing. its not about the shows themselves its about the morality of the issue. NC will not only suffer in culture, but will economy as disney/marvel, an abundance of actors and directors, and now broadway will refuse to work in such a hateful environment. as a result they will lose tourist traffic

  6. TJ Lake says:

    nonono…. If educators are so compelled…. it might be nice, instead of doing these shows, you COULD explain these shows, and say WHY they are forbidden to you.

  7. Edric Floyd says:

    Speaking of performers, Nene Leakes recently announced that she was going to start her stand up comedian career with an appearance in Charlotte NC in April. Has anyone talked about this to her? She seems to have some LGBT following and has worked with LGBT people either on Bravo or that short lived gay sitcom with the gay married couple and surrogate making their baby (I forget the title of the show).

    That may be a good place to start for getting the entertainment community from going to North Carolina. Then lets see who stops performing concerts in that state. Charlotte NC especially is a very active place for concerts. Like when entertainers boycotted Arizona over their not having a MLK holiday, statements and actions can be made by more than just a theater crowd.

  8. Merrill says:

    Yes, by all means, everyone should get behind the convicted child molester in N.C. that started this whole pedo menu movement. It’s so much easier to pick victims when you can isolate them in small rooms.

  9. Snooky Lou says:

    What an ill informed response. If anything, the rednecks will see this as yet another victory for NC and LGBT & the artistic community just take another hit. Does Stephen Schwartz actually think this will make a Conservative Evangelical go, “Hmmm maybe I ought to rethink this”? It only hurts Schwartz’s own community.

    • Doug says:

      snooky, darling. Those evangelical dopes probably won’t ever change their minds. That’s not the point. Schwartz is making a statement and suggesting to the rest of the country to follow suit and remind those evangelical dopes that their actions have consequences…that when they ban “gay”, they are also eventually banning a massive amount of “gay”-created culture along with it.

      • Snooky Lou says:

        Sorry Doug, I still thinks it’s stupid. If Stephen Schwartz was opening a $50,000,000 school for the performing arts, that’s one thing. Most of the people on tour with WICKED are going to be out of staters. Community Theatres don’t pay their artists, it’s all voluntary and maybe one professional theatre was going to do one of his shows this year. It has zero economic impact, the puritans are victorious in driving away the “blasphemer” who wrote GODSPELL about a hippie dippy Christ and the theatre community, one of the biggest supporters of LGBT rights, is the only one impacted economically. It may make him feel good, but he’s essentially screwing nobody but the people he claims to be speaking for. If he really wants to help, forego royalties and let them be donated to LGBT causes.

  10. GreatRewards says:

    “If you don’t change your laws, This puppy dies. And another puppy every day thereafter until you change your laws.”

    Sound horrific? That’s EXACTLY what this guy has done. Punish the innocent, to try and convince the guilty to change. Instead of taking on the government directly, they try to bully them into place.

    I do not approve.

    • It’s all about the Agenda with them. They ‘claim’ to be so peaceful, and free loving, but when it comes down to it, they’re just as bad as those they’re against.

      • And what agenda would that be? The agenda that LGBTQ folks want to be able to work, rent an apartment or buy a home like everyone else? This law allows employers to fire any LGBTQ person based on religious beliefs. It also allows landlords to refuse to rent to LGBTQ tenants or people to sell property to LGBTQ folks for the exact same reasons. That’s clearly discrimination!!

    • Chuck says:

      ““If you don’t change your laws, This puppy dies. And another puppy every day thereafter until you change your laws.”

      Sound horrific? That’s EXACTLY what this guy has done. ”

      Kill puppies? That’s EXACTLY what has been done? I’m very much against the killing of puppies!

      I understand why you care about theater, because you certainly understand dramatic hyperbole.

  11. ElenaV says:

    You don’t like the actions Mr. Schwartz has taken? Quit bitching and start a revolution. That’s the point. Theatre is inherently political. I applaud Mr. Schwartz for taking this action and encouraging others. This is not “denying” children of any rights. This is teachable moment – how one can make a difference regardless of her/his domain. If “consumers” – arts advocates, educators and the entertainment industry – feel the loss, then YOU put the pressure on the government. You are their constituents. Your elected officials are there to serve YOU. If you are looking their other way when bigotry and hate affect a group of people, you are silently endorsing it.

    • Frank Unger says:

      Mmm hmm. That’s like saying it’s the job of black people to starve themselves in protest against oppression and even if it hasn’t worked after a long struggle, you haven’t starved yourself enough.

      The theatre community in NC, if any community has, has been THE NUMBER ONE warrior in the fight for equal rights. The ONLY people who will be hurt by this are people in theatre. We are fighting for a revolution day in, day out. We vote, we contribute to campaigns, we serve on election committees, we write letters to legislators, letters to the editor, we march (see Moral Mondays)… we have been fighting like mad to stop this crap. But it’s so easy for you to moralize from behind your keyboard when you know nothing about how hard we’ve been fighting this. Now, one of our own, Stephen Schwartz essentially says, “to hell with the theatre community down there, instead of using my name to support them, I’m just pulling out”. And I assume he knows as little about our struggle as you do.

      This will in no way, shape or form convince some evangelical redneck that we are on the wrong path, if anything it will make them feel like they have pushed another “fagg0t” out of our puritanical state, in the meantime small theatres who may have marketed, purchased advertising and materials to do one of his shows? They are abandoned. It’s a moronic move and will in no way help advance NC. I agree with Snooky Lou, forego all royalties and donate them all to the cause, in fact, encourage more theatres to do your shows for that very purpose. There’s Stephen’s revolution.

      • gemmalini says:

        You’re right Frank. I work as a fine arts teacher, and I think that the people he is intending to help will be most hurt by this. Donate the money to a greater cause, but pulling it out of the state is only segregating the people who most need to be surrounded and influenced by great theater. I get what he’s trying to do, but it seems like there would be a different way to go about it. Intolerant parents often breed intolerant kids. Let those kids experience MORE of the world, not less, and maybe things will change.

    • Elena, you only ‘applaud’, because you’re about as clueless as they come. Tell me, do you sit on Facebook, and click “Like”, believing you’ve done a service to everyone?

  12. Alexi says:

    He is just looking for some free publicity because I checked and Wicked was not even scheduled to be in NC for the net couple years.

  13. Nothing of value was lost. I say, “Oh well.” Those productions are utter bullshark anyway. Keep on banning, this isn’t the same as that South African nonsense. It may have been ‘effective’ there, but it’s not going to be very effective in the US. Good try, though. Maybe try getting a petition from Change.org too. xD!!!!!

    • It was VERY affective in Arizona as the LGBT community began to pull it’s spending out of the state, and as allies began to do the same… the state dropped theirmoronic hate legislation quick. There is a boycott building against North Carolina that is way overdue. A state where school officials REPEATEDLY allow kids to bully even suspected LGBT kids to suicide and adults do their best to achieve the same ends, deservesto be financially shunned and rejected until the people who have some compassion and humanity in the state stand up and change the laws. Silence is often LITERALLY death.

    • mal smithson says:

      you may want to update your views its reported today you lost 400 jobs with paypal and 100 jobs coming our way to Canada for filming a series plus 13 conventions have already cancelled ….hotel losses alone are going be around 9 million dollars

  14. Hank White says:

    It is my opinion that Stephen Schwartz should write produce and oversee a the staging in their Capitol city a
    pro LGBT Musical with evil polititions and small minded bigots getting their just deserts.

    • Daryl Hackbart says:

      A new work is not necessary…a simple reimagining of “Finian’s Rainbow” would contain all of the key ingredients.

  15. Rachel L says:

    It’s not about making anyone suffer. It’s about making a point. It’s sending the message that what has happened is wrong, and that it won’t just be glossed over. If I were him, I’d probably have done the same thing. If that happened in my state, I’d sure as hell be supporting his actions too. It doesn’t matter that I can’t perform a certain show, oh BOOHOO! There are countless other shows that could still be done. It’s about something much bigger than a performance. It’s about showing those who decided on this that it was the wrong choice. And sure, maybe it won’t change much. But I must give him props for standing up for what he believes in, and what is right.

  16. Lenny C... says:

    I hope all others will follow his lead we don’t need any hate laws

  17. BobC says:

    Dear Susan, I was sad to hear that “Parents don’t care… Neither will the government.” That’s just a defeatist excuse.

    Mother Teresa said, “It starts with a whisper, then grows to a scream.” Believe me, like South Africa, North Carolina will soon hear it loud and clear.

  18. Jena belle says:

    Don’t worry about NC students in the arts being deprived by this. Those same yahoos in the NC government have already cut funding for education in the state so much that the only playwright they can stage in high school in NC now is Thornton Wilder.

  19. VicB says:

    I am sorry that theatre students and patrons in North Carolina will be deprived of experiencing some of the finest works, but maybe it will cause them to persuade politicians in their state to reconsider stupid laws. I certainly hope so.

  20. Melissa H. says:

    Here is the messed up part of the situation…the NC legislation was created in opposition/to shoot down a city ordinance passed in Charlotte that barred LGBT discrimination and created transgender accommodations for bathroom use. Charlotte is one of the biggest cities that Wicked and other works by Stephen Schwartz play in NC. Therefore, Charlotte, gets doubly penalized for trying to something the city considered positive. They had their city legislation struck down by the state government and lose great performances on top of it!!!! Not fair! Not right!

  21. Ginger says:

    I’m hearing a lot of “not fair”, “the government doesn’t care”, “why make them suffer?”… Just, think. About. That. Yeah, it’s *not* fair…. Just as the anti LGBT laws are not fair. The government will care if you make them care… “Why make them suffer… You mean like the anti LGBT law is making people suffer? Or did you mean people are being made to suffer WORSE because a musical is banned from the state? Seriously, you think life is unfair because a musical is being banned? Change the effing laws then. Govt is put in power and can be taken out be you. This musical won’t be the only thing. Think of every student suffering… Now think the laws in place that caused this. And think of how many students are suffering because of those.

  22. JIm Cassidy says:

    Note to Susan: NC’s children are already suffering – and it is because of these laws. Growing up, they are subconsciously being programmed to accept and eventually embrace these laws as a matter of their public policy without being educated on the disgusting hatred and bigotry of their origins. So much has been written about how the holy hetero business owners do not have to serve or acknowledge these people – this is an instance where they themselves are literally deprived of the great gifts these people have for all of us by way of their art. Kids, if you are reading my piece in the middle of all this, consider this what President Obama calls a teachable moment. Ask your parents what means, and then take a step or two back.

  23. Slaggingham says:

    Care trolls should have cared back when they were electing this mouth-breathing knuckle dragger to the Governorship. Now it’s too late.

  24. Elvi says:

    I kinda agree with Susan on this one. How will we teach the next generation to reject these biogted views if they aren’t exposed to the voices fighting this. All they will hear is the bigotry that how now been “legitimized” through horrid legislation. Pippin, wicked, and godspell take familiar stories and force us to look at them a different way. That is what makes them so moving and more important than ever that kids experience this and learn to stand up and think for themselves. You ask Susan to speak up. She cannot do it alone. She needs our help.

  25. Roberta says:

    Thank you, great playwright and person. Do you think we will ever learn?

  26. American says:

    “I feel that it is very important that any (______) that (defies our agenda) suffer economic and cultural consequences, partly because it is deserved and partly to discourage other (______) from following suit.”

    Bake my cake or else.

  27. MIGUEL ESPINOSA GIUDICELLI says:

    Stephen Schwartz is an homosexual who must defy gravity and come out of the closet as well as cats came out of the night to dance to the light of the Jellicle Ball.

  28. Lisa Deed says:

    I like boycotting, it works well in most cases. However, the people who would more than likely go to see Wicked in North Carolina are probably already against this law, and the other people don’t care. I think the movie production companies refusing to film there is probably going to have a larger impact on their economy. But I applaud his efforts. We should all boycott NC and MS at this point.

  29. Gail says:

    the school productions are not going to have that much of an impact but banning professional productions hits the economy of the state. This may bring change.

  30. Robin says:

    You all are making a mountain out of a molehill. There is not any ‘hate’ being legislated for crying out loud. Places and businesses that have instituted the policies you all want so bad are already backtracking and repealing the policy. It only takes one or two jackasses to abuse the opportunity to go into a ladies restroom or locker room and what everyone said would happen happens. And let’s face it, the world is full of jackasses. We need single occupancy restrooms as an option. Period. Problem solved. Wait in line or go to the restroom you have the parts for.

  31. flexdoc says:

    This and Bruce Springsteen. Looks like not much entertaining is going to be going on in NC. Good. Let them spend their time labeling toilets

  32. Lee says:

    The mouth-breathing rednecks don’t want anything smacking of art or entertainment.* They just want to bang their own cousins.

    *For the record, disdain for entertainment and the arts is a core feature of fascism.

What do you think?