Chenoweth Fires Back at Newsweek's "Straight Jacket" Article, Defending Promises Co-star Hayes

PlayBlog   Chenoweth Fires Back at Newsweek's "Straight Jacket" Article, Defending Promises Co-star Hayes
Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth posted a lengthy rebuttal on May 7, in the comments section of Ramin Setoodeh’s April 26 Web article, “Straight Jacket.”

Setoodeh’s article questions whether audience members can accept openly gay actors in straight romantic roles. As a specific example, he cites Chenoweth’s leading man in Promises, Sean Hayes (whose real-life sexuality Setoodeh describes as the “pink elephant in the room,” leading to a performance he feels is “wooden and insincere, like [Hayes is] trying to hide something, which of course he is”). Setoodeh also discusses Tony nominee Jonathan Groff, who is currently playing stage vet Lea Michele’s boyfriend on FOX-TV’s “Glee” (as he did on Broadway in Spring Awakening).

Chenoweth calls the article “horrendously homophobic” and defends her costar by saying, in part, “From where I stand, on stage, with Hayes, every night — I've observed nothing ‘wooden’ or ‘weird’ in his performance, nor have I noticed the seemingly unwieldy presence of a ‘pink elephant’ in the Broadway Theater. (The Drama League, Outer Critics Circle and Tony members must have also missed that large animal when nominating Hayes' performance for its highest honors this year.) I'd normally keep silent on such matters and write such small-minded viewpoints off as perhaps a blip in common sense. But the offense I take to this article, and your decision to publish it, is not really even related to my profession or my work with Hayes or Jonathan Groff (also singled out in the article as too ‘queeny’ to play ‘straight.’) This article offends me because I am a human being, a woman and a Christian.”

Chenoweth continues by saying, “As someone who's been proudly advocating for equal rights and supporting GLBT causes for as long as I can remember, I know how much it means to young people struggling with their sexuality to see out & proud actors like Sean Hayes, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris and Cynthia Nixon succeeding in their work without having to keep their sexuality a secret. No one needs to see a bigoted, factually inaccurate article that tells people who deviate from heterosexual norms that they can't be open about who they are and still achieve their dreams.”

Setoodeh calls Broadway vet Harris’ performance as a womanizer on CBS-TV’s “How I Met Your Mother” a “broad caricature.” He also mentions that Tony winner Nixon was married to a man at the time her hit series “Sex and the City” premiered, implying that her current engagement to a woman has hurt her Hollywood career. Chenoweth calls these and other examples “sloppy in my opinion. Come on now! Openly gay Groff is too ‘queeny’ to play Lea Michelle's boyfriend in ‘Glee,’ but is a ‘heartthrob’ when he does it in Spring Awakening? Cynthia Nixon only ‘got away with it’ 'cause she peaked before coming out? I don't know if you've missed the giant Sex and the City movie posters, but it seems most of America is 'buying it.' I could go on, but I assume these will be taken care of in your ‘Corrections’ this week.”

To read Setoodeh’s article, click here. For a quick link to Chenoweth’s complete comments (which appear on the Website in two parts), click here and scroll down.

Thomas Peter

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