Theater News

Beauty and the Beast Director Resigns After Email to Scott Rudin About Karen Olivo Leaks Online

Robert Jess Roth was to direct an upcoming U.K. and Ireland tour of the Disney stage production.

The Beauty and the Beast artwork
The Beauty and the Beast artwork
(© Disney Theatrical Productions)

Longtime Beauty and the Beast director Robert Jess Roth has resigned from an upcoming U.K. and Ireland tour of the Disney stage production following the leak of an email he sent to producer Scott Rudin about Tony-winning actor Karen Olivo.

Roth's private email to Rudin was written on an airplane during a flight, transcribed by a nearby fellow passenger, and subsequently leaked on social media. According to published reports, Roth's email said that Rudin deserved an "honorary Tony Award for somehow getting that horrible woman to quit acting."

Olivo recently announced on social media that she will not return to her Tony-nominated role in Moulin Rouge! in protest of the theater industry's largely silent response to allegations made against Rudin in a recent Hollywood Reporter article, which detailed decades of alleged mistreatment that employees suffered at his hands. Rudin, who is not involved with Moulin Rouge!"' or Beauty and the Beast'', has subsequently announced that he will "step back" from his upcoming film and Broadway productions.

Roth confirmed the contents of the email to the U.K. theater publication The Stage, saying in a statement "Upon consideration of recent events, it is clear that I am not in a position to lead this production at this time. I see now that the sentiments included in a private email that went public were thoughtless and insensitive, and I am profoundly sorry that my comments have caused unintended pain. I deeply regret making light of bullying, which I know to be a horrible experience. For the good of the show and this wonderful company of artists, I have made the difficult decision to step aside as director."

Disney Theatrical Productions was quick to act, replacing Roth as director with Matt West, the production's original choreographer. Beauty and the Beast has music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton, and is based on the award-winning animated film of the same name. The tour will open at Bristol Hippodrome in late August.