Marriott Theatre Criticized for ‘Evita' Casting

Alex Sanchez, the director and choreographer of Evita, doesn't think there is anything controversial about the theatre's casting

A Chicago-area actor says Marriott Theatre's decision to cast only one person of Latin heritage for its production of "Evita" was "irresponsible."

In an open letter posted on Facebook to the theater, Bear Bellinger said it has made similar casting choices in the past, "and, with Evita, it seems as if you have graduated from mistreatment to erasure."

Bellinger told NBC Chicago he thought this was an opportunity to start a conversation.

"I'm not looking for this theatre to go away," Bellinger said. "I'm looking for this theatre, which provides great jobs for people, to provide jobs for a more inclusive base of people."

Alex Sanchez, the director and choreographer of "Evita," doesn't think there is anything controversial about the theatre's casting.

"When you only get a handful of Latino actors auditioning for a show that has 26 spots available, you can only choose from what's in front of you," Sanchez said.

Bellinger said minority actors may feel discouraged from auditioning.

"Well, you can say there aren't enough minorities coming out on the auditions but if you have a history for not including minorities in your work, then minorities will be discouraged from coming to your auditions in the first place," Bellinger said.

"If you don't come then you're missing out on an opportunity," Sanchez said.

Emjoy Gavino, founder of the Chicago Inclusion Project, says the problem is not with the Marriott Theatre but the entire theatre community.

"I would love to see more inclusive casting in general across the board with all theatre companies," Gavino said.

Marriott Theatre has invited Bear, and Emjoy to meet and talk about these issues.

"There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon," Bear said.

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