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‘West Side Story’ Defends Actor At Center Of Protests Outside Broadway Theater

Denise Petski and Greg Evans

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UPDATED with response to statement: Broadway’s West Side Story is coming to the defense of cast member Amar Ramasar, who has been at the center of continued protests outside the theater over a sexually explicit photo the actor had shared of his girlfriend in 2018 when both were members of New York City Ballet. Protesters have called for his dismissal from the West Side Story production over the photo.

The protest was carried out even after the woman depicted in the photo disavowed the calls for his firing and said the actor – her boyfriend of five years – was being unfairly targeted.

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“The management of West Side Story stands, as it always has stood, with Amar Ramasar,” it said in a statement provided to Deadline on Thursday. “While we support the right of assembly enjoyed by the protestors, 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.”

Ramasar, who plays Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks gang in West Side Story, was one of three men fired in 2018 from New York City Ballet after dancer Alexandra Waterbury accused them of sharing sexually explicit photos of her and another female dancer without the women’s consent. Ramasar was later reinstated following a union arbitration and continues to be a member of the ballet company.

“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 statement continued. “The West Side Story Company does not as a practice terminate employees without cause. There is no cause here.” The statement concluded by saying Ramasar “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.”

The initial allegations were made in a lawsuit filed by Waterbury in which she accused her former boyfriend, dancer Chase Finlay, of sending sexually explicit photos of her to Ramasar and another male dancer. Ramasar, according to the suit, then sent a photo of his girlfriend, also a dancer, to Finlay. (The lawsuit, seeking damages, is ongoing.)

The protest went on as planned Thursday evening outside the Broadway Theatre. Change.org petition starter Megan Rabin, Waterbury, and Change.org also responded to the production’s comments.

“The statement released by West Side Story today demonstrates that the production cares more about money and talent than the safety of its performers,” they said. “Amar Ramasar’s behavior at City Ballet was vile — yet West Side Story chose to hire him anyway. Just because the production is not legally obligated to fire him doesn’t eliminate their moral obligation to keep abusers off the stage. Ramasar shared explicit photos of fellow ballerinas without their consent. His behavior was disgusting, damaging and unlawful.”

Scott Rudin is the lead producer of West Side Story, which is now in previews and opens February 20.

You can read the production’s statement in full below, followed by the response.

“The management of West Side Story stands, as it always has stood, with Amar Ramasar. While we support the right of assembly enjoyed by the protestors, 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. 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 AGMA (representing the company of NYCB) and Actors’ Equity Association (representing the company of West Side Story).

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.”

Here is the response to that in full:

The statement released by West Side Story today demonstrates that the production cares more about money and talent than the safety of its performers. Amar Ramasar’s behavior at City Ballet was vile — yet West Side Story chose to hire him anyway.

Just because the production is not legally obligated to fire him doesn’t eliminate their moral obligation to keep abusers off the stage. Ramasar shared explicit photos of fellow ballerinas without their consent. His behavior was disgusting, damaging and unlawful.

We stand outside your theatre chanting because we have been told that Broadway is a safe, inclusive space. But with this production, Scott Rudin and his team have set a precedent that talent justifies abuse — and that’s not something we intend to be quiet about.

We will continue to ‘enjoy’ our right to assembly, and look forward to educating patrons about the sexual predator in your show again on opening night.

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