“West Side Story” is standing by its star Amar Ramasar, despite protesters at the show demanding he gets the boot.
A rep for the show has issued a fiery statement saying, “The ‘West Side Story’ Company stands, as it always has stood, with Amar Ramasar.” And adds, “There is zero consideration being given to his potentially being terminated,” and, “there has been no transgression of any kind, ever, in this workplace.”
The controversy stems from Ramasar being accused of allegedly participating in lewd text exchanges when he was at the New York City Ballet that involved the sharing and receiving of explicit images of female ballet dancers with male pals. Protesters have called for “West Side Story” to fire Ramasar, who plays Bernardo in the show, over the allegations.
Ramasar was dismissed from the ballet in 2018 after a female dancer filed a civil lawsuit against the company and other defendants. She alleged that Ramasar and two other male dancers exchanged the explicit photos of her and other female dancers without their consent. But Ramasar was reinstated at the ballet after arbitration via the American Guild of Musical Artists. The lawsuit’s still pending, but the defendants are trying to get it tossed.
Either way, demonstrators have been picketing at the Broadway Theatre, where “West Side Story” is playing in previews. A Change.org petition to get Ramasar offstage has more than 24,000 signatures.
But a statement from the show issued on Thursday said Ramasar’s staying put as far as the show is concerned.
“While we support the right of assembly enjoyed by the protesters, the alleged incident took place in a different workplace — the New York City Ballet — which has no affiliation of any kind with ‘West Side Story,’ and the dispute in question has been both fully adjudicated and definitively concluded according to the specific rules of that workplace, as mandated by the union that represents the parties involved in that incident,” the statements read. “Mr. Ramasar is a principal dancer in good standing at the New York City Ballet. He is also a member in good standing of both [American Guild of Musical Artists] (representing the company of NYCB) and Actors’ Equity Association (representing the company of ‘West Side Story’).”
The statement added: “There is zero consideration being given to his potentially being terminated from this workplace, as there has been no transgression of any kind, ever, in this workplace. The ‘West Side Story’ Company does not as a practice terminate employees without cause. There is no cause here. The ‘West Side Story’ Company’s relationship to Mr. Ramasar is completely private to that company and exists solely between Mr. Ramasar and his fellow company members. He is a valued colleague who was hired to play a principal role in this production, which he is doing brilliantly, and which he will continue to do for the entire unabated length of his agreement.”
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