As live theater slowly returns to its former glory, Broadway is becoming a battleground for vaccine issues, as the past week’s controversy has shown.
It all started when Broadway star Laura Osnes, known for her roles in “Cinderella” and “Bandstand,” pulled out of a one-night production of “Crazy For You” scheduled for Aug. 29. Page Six alleged that she had been fired from the show, prompting Osnes to explain the truth via Instagram.
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Osnes wrote that she was “disappointed” to learn she’d have to provide proof of vaccination to participate in the production, and thus, she said she “would have to withdraw.”
“It is a legal right of all Americans to have their medical privacy protected. Mine has now been broadcast with an attitude of shame and demonization,” she wrote. “I believe individuals have the right to do the research, consult a doctor, and come to their own conclusions before deciding whether or not to get any injections.”
“My case is personal. I stand by the decision my husband and I, with input from our physician, have made for ourselves, our family planning, and our future,” she added. “Someday, perhaps we will feel more confident in the research to consider a different position.”
Naturally, being anti-vax drew lots of attention, including from fellow Broadway actor Javier Muñoz, known for his work as the title role in “Hamilton.” Muñoz, who is gay and HIV-positive, responded to Osnes via Instagram:
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“Laura, I took a little time to gather my thoughts before acknowledging your now very public choices regarding the Covid vaccine,” he wrote. “I’m not going to shame you here; shame never helps, as I’ve witnessed in my work regarding HIV/AIDS. I’m not writing this in anger as everyone has already, justifiably, shared their anger. I’m just going to share this…
“I have spent lockdown with my roommate. We decided that together was better for our mental and emotional health than alone. Both my roommate and I are fully vaccinated; (As you may know, I am doubly immunocompromised).
“Last month my roommate contracted a breakthrough infection and tested positive for Covid. We took all necessary precautions, we both quarantined (as I did not want to chance infecting anyone else due to my exposure), and not only did I NOT test positive for Covid throughout that entire experience, my roommate only had symptoms for a few days and recovered quickly and fully. Pretty amazing, in my opinion, and definitely thanks to the vaccine. The vaccines work Laura. They work. They save lives.
“Now, I won’t try to tell you what to do. This is absolutely your choice. What I will do is stand by our industry mandating vaccinations for all cast members and crew. I will stand by our industry requiring vaccinations for all audience members. (thank you Broadway League).
“Personally I’ve lost six loved ones to Covid. I’ve spent the majority of this year at memorials, finally getting to hug others and mourn together. So I am deeply grateful to our industry for taking this stand.
“I thank you for your open letter to us all, I ‘liked’ it and appreciated your honesty. I offer more conversation to you. I’m not here to shame you. As I mentioned earlier, I have never seen shame be effective. Ever. And after all my losses, my heart is too heavy right now for that particular kind of negativity.
“But I can offer my personal testimony and I am willing to listen. But ultimately I hope you reconsider. I truly do.”
Given the recently enacted “Key to NYC” plan, which effectively prohibits unvaccinated people from a variety of activities including entertainment, it doesn’t look like Osnes will be back on a Broadway stage anytime soon. But hopefully Muñoz will, so we can cheer on both his classy activism and his talent.