As a theatre fan, I am constantly on the internet, reading the most up-to-date casting notices. Recently there was an announcement that caused quite a ruckus in the community. Ryan McCartan, known best for portrayal of J. D. in the off-Broadway production of Heathers (or his stint as Diggy in Disney Channel’s “Liv and Maddie”), just made his Broadway debut in Wicked as pretty boy dancer-through-life, Fiyero. Even before it was officially announced, there was speculation that this was happening, and I was over the moon about it because I have been a huge Ryan McCartan fan for such a long time. However, I quickly learned that my peers were...less “rejoicified” than I was. I didn’t get it. I thought Ryan would make the perfect Fiyero. He has the right look, a great voice and a strong following post-Heathers. I did not expect such backlash for this. But then I read the comments and indirect tweets and even texts from friends asking me if I knew about how abusive he was in his past relationship. After having all of that thrown at me at once, I needed to do some digging. So I did.
I’m not one to discuss anyone else’s personal life because I feel it is not any of my business, so I feel uncomfortable writing about this. McCartan was in a very public relationship that ended due to his treatment of his then-fiancée. The fact is that McCartan made this woman uncomfortable enough in their relationship to leave it. Because of that, his casting does not sit well with fans of Wicked, and a lot of the community in general.
I’m actually kind of torn on the casting of Ryan McCartan in Wicked. Part of me feels like I have to denounce McCartan, or risk being portrayed as being okay with whatever went down in his relationship. But the truth is that I don’t have an opinion on it either way. It’s not my place to. I don’t know what happened so I can’t form an opinion. Part of me wants to play the Wicked lottery this weekend. But then it looks like I’m supporting McCartan’s being cast in Wicked, which I do. However, I don’t condone any woman feeling terrible in her relationship. But I don’t see how my wanting to see Wicked changes that.
On the one hand, I don’t think McCartan’s actions in his past relationship should dictate whether or not his career is halted. But then again, did his actions really have consequences? He did end up making his Broadway debut, after all. Should we hold McCartan accountable for his actions? Is that even our place? Do we let it go because we don’t actually know what he did? Or is what he did irrelevant, and the just the fact that he did anything the problem?
On the other hand, are we as a community just blowing this thing out of proportion? If I see people publicly spewing hate his way, is that okay? I’ve seen people spew hate her way in defense of him, is that allowed? Shouldn’t we just stay out of it? If I feel that way, does that mean I’m diminishing what she went through?
You know, I only started to feel like I should be ashamed for being excited for this casting after reading so much negativity about it online. It was polarizing. The hate being spewed is unnecessary on both sides. I understand being upset with the situation but this is ridiculous. The world is already a place filled with negativity right now. So many people, myself included, used to be excited about escaping the stresses and drama of the real world by taking in 2-3 hours of theatre. I miss that. I miss not having to have an opinion about the personal lives of the actors. I miss not having to write an article about conflicting thoughts about the new Fiyero in Wicked instead of just... going to see Wicked. I don’t really have a conclusion to this piece because I still don’t know what to make of the whole thing. What are your thoughts? I really want to hear from as many people as possible.
(Not entirely sure, we’re guessing Joan Marcus and will change this when we have verified who the photo credit belongs to.)