While I like to keep this blog positive, I can’t help but comment on a recent Twitter controversy involving Broadway actress Morgan James’ negative commentary towards The Public Theater’s new production of Into the Woods. James, who attended the first public preview performance, tweeted (and I’m paraphrasing this as the post has since been removed from twitter) ‘how can you mess up Into the Woods?’ and went on to make negative comments about the production’s acting and musicianship with the hashtag “horrified”, eliciting angry emotions within the Broadway community on Twitter. OUCH. With that said, James has since tweeted a public apology to The Public Theater and members of the production; however, the damage has been done. The respected Broadway website, playbill.com, posted a report of the controversy which included James’ public twitter apology. I guess if you cross a legend like Stephen Sondheim, you make news on Broadway.
For years now, people have been sharing too much information through social media. I have little to no interest in much of what shows up in my Facebook or Twitter feeds. But there is a difference between innocently telling the world that you have to pee and directly insulting your colleague because, unfortunately, that is what Morgan James did when she tweeted her opinion. The Broadway community of actors, musicians, writers, composers, lyricists, choreographers, etc are colleagues that should support the common goal of bringing the arts to the public, first and foremost, by respecting each other. There is the expectation of professionalism with any job, whether it be in the theatre or the office. As a medical professional, I encounter many physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, etc on a daily basis and I don’t necessarily think that they are all great physicians, nurses, and nursing assistants. BUT. If I took to twitter and tweeted that Dr. Jones is a horrible doctor and I wouldn’t let him take care of my dog, I would be in serious trouble. I could lose my job and my credibility. AND since I may or may not be correct in my opinion, I could destroy the career of an excellent physician. In any profession, there is the expectation of professionalism that should supersede the powerful thing that is Twitter (or Facebook).
While I know this example is a little extreme when compared to Morgan James’ comments, I am trying to emphasize the necessity of thinking before tweeting and being professional. No doubt, she has ticked off some of her colleagues. Was it intentional? OF COURSE NOT. Will these colleagues come out and support her in her next show? Will they jump to work with her if the opportunity comes along? Maybe... but maybe not. Will Stephen Sondheim cast her in one of his productions? I’d be shocked if he did. Here we have a remarkably talented young actress with an insane singing voice, who should be working on Broadway for a long time...... but has she just jeopardized her career? And has this one tweet jeopardized the viability of Into the Woods? I hope not. If anything, the Twitter controversy has made me sad for Morgan James and sad for Into the Woods. They both deserve the chance for a long Broadway life, and a simple tweet destroying that chance is what would be truly “horrifying”.
And so I conclude this blog by saying, keep it positive. Be professional. Think before you speak (or tweet). And most importantly, SUPPORT THEATRE!!!!