People are standing behind Alysha Umphress, an actress, singer, and theater star who was ridiculed for her size in a recent review of her show, "Smokey Joe’s Cafe: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller," in the New York Times.
Laura Collins-Hughes published a review of the off-Broadway show on Sunday, July 22.
Among critiques of music, staging, and scenes throughout the show, she made a point of mentioning that Alysha Umphress — who has been in Broadway productions such as "American Idiot" and "On the Town" — wasn't wearing the proper costume for a woman her size.
The following quote is what sparked the body-shaming scandal:
Ms. Umphress, by the way, is bigger than the other women onstage, and the costume designer, Alejo Vietti, doesn’t seem to have known how to work with that, dressing her in an unnecessarily unflattering way. He does better with the skimpy, yet not overly revealing, pink fringe outfit Emma Degerstedt wears, and jiggles in, for the leering number “Teach Me How to Shimmy.”
Umphress responded to the article, writing that she was disappointed to be singled out for her size:
Broadway actors and actresses defended Umphress. Brandon Uranowitz, whose turn as Adam Hochberg in "An American in Paris" earned him a Tony nomination, wrote that women everywhere deserve better.
Uranowitz called the review "embarrassingly juvenile."
Literally haven’t tweeted since Feb., but awoke to the embarrassingly juvenile @nytimes “review” of @SmokeyJoesShow by @collinshughes. @Cristalzheat deserves better, readers deserve better, women deserve better. @Cristalzheat is a fucking goddesshttps://t.co/IwfuRWS2yG— Brandon Uranowitz (@BranUran) July 23, 2018
Andrew Keenan-Bolger, who has appeared in Broadway shows like "Tuck Everlasting," "Newsies," and "Mary Poppins," suggested that instead of reading the review, people should purchase tickets to see "one of the most gorgeous and fiercely talented women" perform in the show.
"Smokey Joes" debuted on July 22, at Stage 42 in New York.
Collins-Hughes did not reply to Umphress but she defended herself and her original words, responding to the public retaliation:
She claims she was not at all praising or shaming anyone's body type, but strictly talking about the costuming, and the designer's lack of knowledge for dressing a "larger woman."
It is in no way shameful to be big, let alone bigger than the other women onstage. My remark about the costuming reflects on the designer. This is not the first time I’ve noticed a designer seemingly at a loss about how to dress a larger woman well.— Laura Collins-Hughes (@collinshughes) July 23, 2018
I did not critique or praise anyone’s body. I said the shimmy costume worked better. It is not shameful to be big, and I didn’t suggest that it is.— Laura Collins-Hughes (@collinshughes) July 23, 2018
Still, Twitter wasn't buying the defense:
You are able to see how readers aren’t pleased with the way you explained it right?— Janet Krupin (@janetkrupin) July 23, 2018
It is really important to understand the difference between intent and impact. I hope your intent was not to evoke such negative, offensive remarks. Nonetheless, what was said is offensive, especially to the ferosch party it was directed towards.— Matthew (@TheHumanMatt) July 24, 2018
Some are saying that she should apologize instead of defending what she said:
The fact that you even mentioned the size of an actor & don't think there's anything wrong w/that means you shouldn't be writing theater reviews. Broadway is about TALENT, the best of the best which is exactly what @Cristalzheat represents. Stop defending yourself & APOLOGIZE!— SmugVegetarian (@SmugVegetarian) July 23, 2018
i think you meant “you are right. i definitely could’ve critiqued the costume design without commenting on the body of an actress.”— Julie Galorenzo (@jgalorenzo) July 23, 2018
Umphress gave a heartfelt thanks to fans and fellow actors who stood by her side:
Last night I cried myself to sleep. This morning I woke up mad as hell. Tonight I feel completely overwhelmed and extremely grateful from the outpouring of love and support from this amazing community (and beyond)! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. You’re all FEROSH.— Alysha Umphress (@Cristalzheat) July 24, 2018
Collins-Hughes hasn't issued an apology or given any further comments.