Close to 100 #MeToo activists convened at the opening night of ‘West Side Story’ on Broadway to protest the involvement of a cast member who allegedly leaked nude images of his girlfriend.
The irate protesters took to the Broadway Theatre to call for Amar Ramasar – cast to play Sharks gang leader Bernardo – to be dropped from the production during its opening on Thursday.
In 2018, Ramasar was fired from New York City Ballet after dancer Alexandra Waterbury accused him and two other male dancers of sharing sexually explicit photos of her and another female dancer without the women’s consent.
The irate protesters took to the Broadway Theatre to call for Amar Ramasar – cast to play Sharks gang leader Bernardo – to be dropped from the production during its opening on Thursday
The protesters stood to the side of the theater during its opening night
Alexa Maxwell, 25, is pictured with her boyfriend Amar Ramasar, 38, who shared a sexually explicit photo of her without her consent with two male dancers in the New York City Ballet
During the demonstration, protesters could be heard chanting: ‘Hey hey, ho ho, Amar has got to go.’
They held signs that read ‘Keep predators off the stage’ and ‘Boo Bernardo.’
Megan Rubin, the woman responsible for getting the Change.org petition launched against Ramasar, told the New York Post she was pleased with the turnout.
‘We have to let the producers know that we aren’t okay with Amar still being on stage,’ Rubin said.
During the demonstration, protesters could be heard chanting: ‘Hey hey, ho ho, Amar has got to go’
They held signs that read ‘Keep predators off the stage’ and ‘Boo Bernardo’
Megan Rubin, the woman responsible for getting the Change.org petition launched against Ramasar, said she was pleased with the turnout
Protestors outside the Broadway Theater during the opening night of the show
One protester claimed that Ramasar ‘should be on a sex offender list’
A young actor named David declared that not getting rid of the actor set a bad example.
‘What you’re saying is that it’s okay to treat women like this by letting him keep his job. I don’t know how people share the stage with him,’ David added.
In an interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday, producer Scott Rudin declared that he had no intention of letting Ramasar go. The actor pictured on opening night
Some of the protesters carried signs that read ‘Sexual harassment shouldn’t get a standing ovation’ and ‘Keep predators off the stage.’
In an interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday, producer Scott Rudin declared that he had no intention of letting Ramasar go.
‘The arbitrator found that there had been no firing offense,’ Rudin said. ‘He got reinstated. I don’t excuse it. I think what he did was really stupid.’
‘I mean am I supposed to replace him in the show? I’m not gonna do that,’ Rudin added.
Actors’ Equity released a statement offering their thoughts on the entire ordeal.
‘Everyone at West Side Story should be able to go to work and perform feeling safe and protected in their workplace,’ Actors’ Equity Association Executive Director Mary McColl said, according to Playbill. ‘Equity has been in communication with the general manager and the members of the show. As a union, Equity’s role is to ensure that our members are protected in the workplace and we take that responsibility very seriously. Equity will continue to hold all employers to their legal obligation to maintain a safe and harassment-free environment. I want all members, wherever they might work, to know that they can contact their business representative whenever there is any kind of problem in the workplace, or use the Equity hotline to anonymously report problems in their workplace.’
During previews for the show, groups of protesters gathered outside of the theater and called for the dismissal of the 38-year-old, who they have branded a ‘rapist’, ‘pedophile’, and ‘sexual predator’.
His girlfriend, Alexa Maxwell, 25, claims the actor and ballet dancer – who has been her boyfriend for five years – is being unfairly targeted and that the photo was a ‘personal matter’.
A protest during the show preview called for Ramasar’s dismissal from the West Side Story cast
Alexandra Waterbury, 22, filed a lawsuit in 2018 accusing three male dancers in the New York City Ballet, of sharing sexually explicit photos of her and another female dancer
In 2018, Ramasar was fired from New York City Ballet after Alexandra Waterbury accused him and two other male dancers of sharing sexually explicit photos of her and another female dancer without the women’s consent.
He was later reinstated and continues to be a member of the ballet company.
Ramasar’s involvement in the accusations included a 2018 incident in which fellow dancer Chase Finlay sent a sexually explicit photo of Waterbury to Ramasar and another male dancer.
In response, Ramasar sent a naked picture of his girlfriend Alexa Maxwell, who is also a dancer, to the other two men without her consent.
At the time, Finlay was Waterbury’s boyfriend and he is the main defendant. She is seeking damages in the ongoing lawsuit.
Waterbury did not organize the protest but attended and thanked the group for their support
Protesters continue an online campaign to have Ramasar dismissed from West Side Story
Alexa Maxwell spoke for the first time about her picture being shared by Ramasar and said that she was not a ‘victim’
Maxwell hit back at the protesters earlier in the month saying that he was being unfairly targeted and that she ‘is not a victim’.
The earlier protest was the second in two weeks and there has been an ongoing social media campaign and an online petition calling for Ramasar’s dismissal.
As well as the public outrage, Maxwell revealed she is receiving private messages criticizing her for staying with Ramasar.
‘I am not a victim in this and no longer wish for my truth to be misrepresented. It is not my mission to diminish the feelings of Alexandra’s but I want to bring to light some facts that have been misrepresented across multiple platforms,’ Maxwell said in a statement posted just before the protest began.
The statement adds that the ‘only photograph that was shared by Amar was of me, his girlfriend of nearly five years. I knew about the photos of me when they were taken, and while sharing it privately with a close friend was a misstep in judgment, Amar immediately told me when he sent them to Chase and his sincerest regrets have led us to today, where we reside together and are building a loving and happy relationship.
‘The incident was a personal matter between me and Amar, and I am okay with what happened.’
Actor and dancer Amar Ramasar, 38, was fired from the New York City Ballet when accusations were first made but was later reinstated and continues to be a member of the ballet company
Maxwell added she wanted to clear up her story before the protest began and to highlight that Ramasar had not originally been accused by Waterbury of things that she and members of the public are now claiming.
‘On social media, Alexandra and other people out there have recklessly tossed around phrases like ‘rapist,’ ‘sexual predator,’ and ‘pedophile’ when referring to Amar,’ she said.
‘Amar never raped anyone — and Alexandra in her lawsuit does not allege that he did.
‘Amar is not a sexual predator — and Alexandra in her lawsuit does not allege that he is. And Amar is no pedophile — and Alexandra in her lawsuit does not allege anything like that.
‘And while Alexandra in her lawsuit makes allegations about group texts in which men spoke of women in horrible terms, Amar was not a participant in those group texts, and Alexandra does not allege that he was.’
Waterbury was not the organizer of the protests or the online campaign but did attend preview protests.
In response to Maxwell’s statement, she told the New York Times: ‘He still asked for photos of me. He still wronged me.’
She also offered her support for the protest posting a thank you message to Instagram and stating that she is ‘excited to continue raising awareness about these abuses and fighting for justice’.
‘Cannot believe 40+ people showed up tonight to protest Amar’s casting in @westsidestorybway We handed out 400+ flyers to audience members,’ she wrote in the post.
‘I’m excited to continue raising awareness about these abuses and fighting for justice. It’s time to hold people accountable for their actions. Talent is not an excuse or a justification for sexual assault or misogynistic slander.
‘Thank you to everyone who came out tonight and to those who organized everything. The support received is overwhelming and humbling. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.’
The newly re-imagined West Side Story is currently in previews and set to open on Broadway on February 20, 2020.
The show’s producer Scott Rudin has voiced his support for Ramasar and stated that the production stands behind him. Rudin told the New York Times that Ramasar is ‘an exemplary company member’ and ‘has more than earned our trust’.
In the 2018 lawsuit filed by Waterbury, she accuses Ramasar of sharing explicit photos of another dancer which Maxwell has now confirmed was she.
Maxwell claims that in 2018, Waterbury attempted to convince her to join the lawsuit during an hour-long phone conversation, advising Maxwell that it ‘is worth half a billion dollars’.
Waterbury’s lawyer, Jordan K. Merson claims this is inaccurate.
‘It is unfortunate that Ms. Maxwell would try to taint Ms. Waterbury with all that she has done for the #MeToo movement,’ he said, adding that her statement a year after the lawsuit was filed is problematic.