Chanhassen Dinner Theatres scraps ‘Cinderella’ over lack of diversity

A suburban dinner theater has canceled plans for its production of "Cinderella" due to a lack of diversity in the cast, which it said didn’t fit its efforts to become more diverse.

In a statement posted on its website, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres said the decision was made "after careful consideration and with our ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion."

The move comes after the theater’s leadership posted a statement in February about taking a deep look at the practices, biases and historical mistakes the theater has made while committing to change, particularly by being more diverse, on and off the stage. The announcement also said a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultant was hired to help the theater and a committee was created.

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres said it still looks forward to bringing "Cinderella" to its stage in the future but "decided our original casting didn’t go far enough in our commitment, and instead of waiting another full year to implement these important changes, we chose now."

In the place of "Cinderella," the theater said it will produce "Footloose!"

"In addition to changing future programming, we are establishing new pre-production protocols. We will be inviting (and paying) BIPOC artists to analyze the production with our creative teams through a new DEI lens – looking to expand the voices that are at the table and impacting the storytelling," the statement on the theater’s website read, in part. "This conversation will happen before the design and casting process has begun. We believe this new process will allow us to tell the story in a rich way and allow us to live out our commitment to identity-conscious casting and becoming a more intentionally anti-racist theater."

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres was started in 1968 and was entrusted to its current ownership group in 2010, which is led by President Michael Brindisi, Vice President Tamara Kangas Erickson and Steven L. Peters.