Antonio Cipriano Latest 'Jagged Little Pill' Actor to Quit after Allegations of Transphobia by Producers

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday October 7, 2021
Originally published on September 29, 2021

Antonio Cipriano, the Broadway actor who originated the role of Phoenix in the jukebox musical "Jagged Little Pill," announced he would be leaving the production after allegations of transphobia were leveled at the producers, People Magazine reported.

Cipriano, 21, tweeted the news Sept. 26, saying that his appearance with the cast at the Tony Awards that night would mark his swan song. The show is scheduled to resume on Broadway next month, Forbes noted.

"After four years of being with Jagged Little Pill, the Tony's tonight will be my final performance with the show," the actor tweeted, before going on to add: "I have to acknowledge the harm that many trans + non-binary, and all marginalized folks, on-stage cast members and off have endured through the years."

The actor added: "I recognize my privilege and take responsibility for being part of the harm caused."

The announcement made Cipriano "the latest star of Broadway's 'Jagged Little Pill' to speak out against the alleged 'harm' inflicted by the show's producers against the trans and non-binary community," People related.

"Another cast member, Celia Gooding, announced last week that they would also be leaving the production after the Tonys for similar reasons," UK newspaper The Independent recalled.

Forbes detailed that a nonbinary former cast member, Nora Schell, said in a Sept. 24 tweet that "they were 'intimidated, forced and coerced' by high-level members of the production team to put off urgent care for their Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in order to not inconvenience the show".

Another nonbinary former cast member, Iris Menas, "claimed to 'have PTSD' from the higher-ups' 'traumatizing' behavior," Forbes added.

The show has also been troubled by the revelation that one of the play's characters — Jo, played by Lauren Patten — "was originally written to be gender non-conforming, but the creators changed the character to be a cisgender woman when it came to Broadway and denied ever intending the character to be nonbinary," Forbes said.

"The producers issued a statement in mid-September addressing those concerns, saying they were 'deeply sorry' and would take steps like hiring a new team to 'revisit and deepen' the script, hiring a director of people & culture, opening its casting of the role in the future to nonbinary performers and partnering with The Trevor Project and Trans Lifeline," the Forbes article said.

The show won two Tonys at the Sept. 26 awards, one of them going to "Jo" actor Lauren Patten, who thanked "my trans and nonbinary friends and colleagues who have engaged with me in difficult conversations that have joined me in dialogue" around the character, Forbes reported.

Patten's win sparked pushback on social media. The Wrap reported that "critics on social media were disappointed by her win, with some suggesting she should have dropped out of the show and declined the award, considering the accusations the production was facing."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.