American Idiot star Linden Furnell has been sacked from the Australian production of the show the day before opening night in Melbourne.
Furnell was dismissed for making a comment to a fellow actor about ‘menstruation”. He was sacked by the company Shake & Stir for being in breach of company policy.
The decision to sack Furnell, who has had no prior altercations, has raised a serious issue about over-reaction in the theatre world. The sacking of Craig McLachlan from the Rocky Horror Show is now in the courts with Craig suing for defamation. An accusation against actor Geoffrey Rush in King Leah by the Sydney Theatre Company was also met with legal action.
The severity of Furnell’s sacking is potentially another legal time-bomb. Considering how swift action was taken and with no prior ‘convictions’ Furnell will definitely have a case to pursue and probably a good chance of winning. Considering that while the comment may have been ill-concieved, Linden had nothing to gain finacially, for his career and it wasn’t a powerplay which is really what the #metoo movement is all about.
Furnell has addressed the sacking on his Facebook page. He says, “Yesterday I was fired from American Idiot on account of ‘serious misconduct’. I wasn’t asked to explain, give my account, dispute it or attempt resolution”.
Linden has owned up to what happened. “Those that know me well, are probably accustomed to my impulsive mind and somewhat inactive filter…
“One night I wasn’t careful and made a mistake. It was a particularly hot night in an old theatre without suitable aircon and we were both comically sweaty. Without thought, I made a crude allusion to menstruation amongst the banter. It was in poor taste and a lame attempt at humour. The kind of thing you say to make your friends go “euugghhh gross”.
“I found out later that same night via a text conversation with her that it had made her very uncomfortable and thrown off her show. Naturally, when I discovered the fact I apologised immediately and said that I would do what was necessary to avoid making that mistake again and reassured that I definitely did not intend to cause hurt or discomfort. I made a poor judgement call, assumed too much comfort in a work friendship. I apologised again for the upset caused”.
Furnell has accused the producers of the show of having “a knee-jerk reaction”. “The producers had a knee jerk reaction, probably as a form of damage control / prevention and I found myself fired without so much as a conversation”.
“I made a mistake, owned up to it, was immediately fired,” he concluded.
Furnell’s understudy Ben Bennett has taken over the lead role of Johnny and played the part for opening night in Melbourne. In what is almost a remarkable magic act, the producers of the show had the official program reprinted and on-sale for opening night with Bennett in the credits.
American Idiot, featuring the music of Green Day, is on in Melbourne until March 11, 2018.