California | Gay Marriage | Jeff Whitty | Marc Shaiman | Mormon | News | Proposition 8 | Sacramento | Theatre

Musical Theatre Under Fire for Artistic Director's Prop 8 Support

California Musical Theatre is Sacramento's "oldest professional performing arts organization and California's largest nonprofit musical theater company" according to the Sacramento Bee and its artistic director Scott Eckern, who has been with the theatre for 25 years, has placed it in turmoil following revelations that he donated $1,000 to the campaign to pass Prop 8.

EckernHairspray director Marc Shaiman is leading the charge to boycott the theatre. Shaiman reportedly told Eckern: "The idea that your donation came from a salary that for a short amount of time was drawn from profits from a show I wrote upsets me terribly and I would never allow anything I write to play there and will encourage my colleagues to consider doing the same."

Some of Shaiman's peers, including Avenue Q writer Jeff Whitty, contacted Eckern with their concerns.

According to the Bee, the theatre is contemplating what to do: "Richard Lewis, the organization's executive producer, said the board of directors will conduct an emergency meeting on the matter this afternoon. He said it was too early to tell how this would affect Eckern's 25-year employment with California Musical Theatre."

Additionally, an Anti-Gay Blacklist has sprung up online highlighting business owners and prominent supporters of Proposition 8.

Prop. 8 gift gets theater's leader in a ruckus [sacramento bee]
Dra-ma [good as you]

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  1. CAMERON...give me a fucking break! This man contributed a not insignificant amount of money to a campaign that robbed our community of fundamental civil rights. There is NOTHING short-sighted, hypocritical, anti-American or disgusting about boycotting proponents of hate. In America we are free to choose who we do business with, regardless of our reasons. In fact, boycotting a business because you don't agree with the business practices or the personal beliefs of the owner/manager is about as American as it gets. Grow a set, CAMERON!

    Posted by: peterparker | Nov 11, 2008 1:22:39 PM

  2. Yes, there's no way to contact the gayblacklist people. I wanted them to add Charles Pope, who is executive vice president of strategic planning and corporate development at Seagate Technology, who donated $30,000 to Yes on 8. His wife donated $25,000. The donation database via SFGate lists him as working for Sengate.

    Posted by: S | Nov 11, 2008 1:27:14 PM

  3. Aaron Ruell studied film at Brigham Young University. Can you say "Mormon"?

    Posted by: peterparker | Nov 11, 2008 1:31:04 PM

  4. This will boil down to job performance. Can he still be effective in his job. The answer, based on so many of the comments here, is no. I work at a high-profile company in Dallas. I am completely out, and my boss is fine with it. But it's Texas! If I upset the client base, my job would be in jeopardy.

    We have to deal with realities, and the reality here is that if you can't do your job, you might be fired. This decision will be made by patrons and clients, not necessarily unilaterally by the board. He made a very foolish decision.

    Posted by: David T | Nov 11, 2008 1:39:45 PM

  5. Those contribution lists at SFGATE are very illuminating. In my very conservative community in Manhattan Beach, CA, I was surprised (and touched) to find that more contributions came from opponents of Prop 8, than backers. In addition to boycotting donors who supported the initiative, I am also going to thank with my gay dollar those who were on our side.

    Posted by: dc8stretch | Nov 11, 2008 1:41:53 PM

  6. I'd like everyone to take a minute and TRY to imagine musical comedy without gays or lesbians.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Nov 11, 2008 1:58:57 PM

  7. I've always (perhaps naively) believed that you can only blindly hate a group of people if you don't personally know any of them. So, racists continue to be racist because they don't know any black people, anti-semites are only anti-semitic because they don't know any Jewish people, and homophobes are only homophobic because they don't know any gay people.

    Yet this guy must know hundreds of gay people, and he still wants to support prop 8? Blows my theory out of the water.

    Posted by: Paul H | Nov 11, 2008 2:31:19 PM

  8. here is the site, call or email them now:

    1510 J Street, Suite 200
    Sacramento, Calif. 95814
    (916) 446-5880
    (916) 446-1370 | fax

    Posted by: Chris | Nov 11, 2008 2:50:57 PM

  9. Here's one of the MANY shows they won't be doing --

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Nov 11, 2008 7:31:36 PM

  10. This is a classic case of biting the hands that feed one.

    Posted by: libhomo | Nov 11, 2008 8:26:11 PM

  11. Why do most of the posters here think that "Yes on 8" is the same as "hate" towards LGBT people? It's not... How sad that you demand acceptance and tolerance but are not willing to give it to those you disagree with. By the way, go ahead and boycott CalMT. Most of the patrons probably voted yes on 8.

    Posted by: Buck | Nov 11, 2008 11:23:54 PM

  12. Some updates:

    Eckern has issued an apology of sorts, and has donated $1,000 to the HRC.

    The BOD did not meet this afternoon as planned.

    I am a resident of the Sacramento area, and a major donor to CMT. It is one of the finest regional theater companies in the US, and in addition to producing the local engagements of touring Broadway shows like "The Color Purple," now playing, operates Music Circus, a 50+ year traditional summer-stock series produced in-the-round that is, quite simply, a living museum of the American musical theater.

    CMT is a treasure that adds immeasurably to the quality of life in northern California.

    I know many of the people who work for CMT personally and they are heartsick about this controversy.

    The problem that CMT must confront is this: as artistic director, Mr. Eckern exercises considerable influence over hiring, casting and other executive decisions. Can and will those who have been passed over in the past or in the future for opportunities here question whether their sexual orientation, or another applicant's Mormon faith, were factors in hiring decisions?

    Can the organization fulfill its mission if many of the leading creative talents in the American musical theater community refuse to work with or allow their works to be produced by CMT?

    Tough questions.

    I see no benefit to boycotting the work of this wonderful organization. I see an opportunity for CMT and Mr. Eckern to come to a mutual decision that allows everyone to move forward with dignity and clarity about the mission of the organization.

    Stay tuned.

    Posted by: Allan | Nov 11, 2008 11:43:08 PM

  13. the guy that runs the antigayblacklist site needs to either post an e-mail address or expose a form so that we can report other business owners for inclusion

    Posted by: Steve | Nov 12, 2008 12:31:38 AM

  14. To Buck, and all,

    Tolerance is impossible. It is a useless term and impossible concept. Tolerance requires 3 elements, a “basic truth”, 100% neutrality and utter impartiality. Since there is no “basic truth” and tolerance automatically implies disagreement (we can’t tolerate someone unless we disagree with them. We don’t tolerate people who share our views - - they’re on our side) then tolerance is reserved for those we think are wrong. If we think someone is wrong, then clearly we’re no longer neutral or impartial, because we believe that there is a “basic truth” - - ours.

    The battle for equality is not now, has never been and will never be about tolerance. It is about power. It is about a parent forcing a child to sit at the table until they eat something “icky”. Face it; most people think that we are “icky”. This isn’t about marriage, God, children, education, etc., it is about the majority of Americans thinking we are “icky”. And they’re not going to “give” equal rights to “icky people”; we have to “take” them.

    Don’t get caught in the tolerance game. It is irrelevant to our cause.

    Posted by: John | Nov 12, 2008 1:41:21 AM

  15. @BUCK: your argument that queer folk are not being tolerant and accepting of people of faith is Orwellian. The GLBT community has not supported legislation that would rob believers of their right to worship as they see fit. But members of the religious community have gone out of their way to pass laws that deny GLBT people the same legal protections that heterosexuals enjoy without question. Of course we push back when are stripped of the civil right of marriage. That isn't called intolerance, BUCK. It is called standing up to a bully.

    Posted by: peterparker | Nov 12, 2008 2:37:42 AM


    Just read this a few minutes ago. He resigned!

    Posted by: Lucky Boyd | Nov 12, 2008 2:45:35 PM

  17. To adamo be sure you have the right person. The list says "Andre Carli / Professor, Cal. State Univ. Sacramento / Elk Grove, CA / $1,000" not the "Andrea Carlin" you say. There is an Andre Carli that teaches Italian at Sacramento.

    Posted by: Manuel | Nov 13, 2008 9:38:32 PM

  18. I am very sad to hear that any Professor at a public university would contribute to "Yes on Prop 8". Why? Because I would hope they were informed enough to know the issue is one of civil rights and what constitutes a legal marriage and that is is not about religion. I would also hope anyone in a publicly funded postion would see that it is all the public that funds their salary and that includes gays and lesbians and those like me who are straight but an avid supporter of their rights.

    Posted by: CLL | Nov 15, 2008 8:51:37 PM

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