SALT LAKE CITY – It turns out, the show won’t go on, after all. The Utah Repertory Theater is shutting down for good after serious accusations about bad behavior backstage and concerns about the safety of the performers.
This closure comes after one of the actors scheduled to perform in the production of American Psycho vandalized the set just before opening day. He tells KSL he tagged the walls with expletives hoping the rest of the cast would lose interest in performing. He says the cast and crew were at their wits end because of bad communication between the directors and the actors. However, at first, no one backed him.
“After the cast didn’t quit, I was fully expecting to crawl into a hole and disappear for three years and be blacklisted from every theater company,” Sharette says.
Other people convinced Sharette to come forward, so he posted a long list of grievances on his Facebook page. He described how actors were told the rehearsals would be in one location, when they were really in another. He claims one actor was told they wouldn’t have to sing or dance, then was later criticized for not know the steps. He also says conditions weren’t safe on the set, and people were working while injured or sick.
He says, “There were people puking. There was an actress with strep.”
However, some of the most scathing claims were about theater founder Johnny Hebda. Sharette says Hebda tried to convince him to sleep with a cast mate. Plus, he claims he heard stories about Hebda drugging a cast member without their knowledge, although theater managers say they never witnessed anything like that.
After seeing the Facebook post, the rest of the cast decided to walk out, as a group.
Sharette acknowledges he broke the law by vandalizing the set. However, he feels he had no choice.
“My illegal actions should not be supported,” he says.
Theater managers fire back at some of the claims being made, saying if the actors felt unsafe while performing fight scenes, Sharette is partly to blame for that.
Managing Director JC Carter says, “When it comes to an unsafe environment, I will remind you that Mr. Sharette was the fight captain. The safety in combat situations was his responsibility.”
After the cast quit, theater board members all came to the same conclusion.
“We decided that the best move would be to just stop producing shows,” Carter says.
The theater’s farewell message was posted on their website. They thanked all of the casts and production teams involved in their shows over the last seven years. They also say anyone who had tickets for American Psycho should contact ArtTix for a full refund.