Rob Roth, who directed the original Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast, will no longer direct the upcoming U.K. and Ireland tour of the Disney musical following the leak of an email he sent to Scott Rudin. The Broadway producer has come under fire in recent weeks following allegations of longstanding physical and emotional abuse and intimidation.
The text of the email made the rounds on social media after a passenger, seated near Roth on an April 16 flight, was able to transcribe its contents, part of which said Rudin was deserving of an “honorary Tony Award for somehow getting that horrible woman to quit acting…God bless you Scott for your service to American theatre.”
Roth's email was denigrating Tony winner Karen Olivo, who recently shared that she will not return to her Tony-nominated role in Moulin Rouge! once Broadway reopens. "Building a better industry is more important than putting money in my pockets," Olivo said in her Instagram video. She also called the industry response to the Rudin allegations "unacceptable."
Roth, who later confirmed the contents of the email, said 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."
The Tony-nominated director added, "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.”
Following Roth’s decision to step aside as director, Disney Theatrical Productions announced that Matt West, original Beauty and the Beast choreographer, will direct and choreograph the new touring production, which launches in Bristol in August.