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Broadway star Alysha Umphress is tearing up the stage in an off-Broadway production of Smokey Joe’s Cafe. However, New York Times critic Laura Collins-Hughes commented in her review about the actress’s size — and many are calling it body-shaming.
In the review, Collins-Hughes writes, “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.”
While calling out bad costuming is often part of theater reviews, it seems unnecessary to point out that Umprhess is bigger than her colleagues. The actor responded to the review with a note that she tweeted.
Collins-Hughes responded to being called out by explaining she was only commenting on the costume design, and that designers seemed to struggle with dressing larger women. That may be the case, but is that pertinent to a review of the show, or something that should be addressed in another story?
The Broadway community rallied to support Umphress.
Tony-nominated Brandon Uranowitz pointed out that while Collins-Hughes had attempted to explain herself, she still hasn’t apologized for the hurt she caused Umphress.
One of her co-stars shared her support.
Fans also shared their thoughts about the critic’s hurtful choice of words.
Umphress is not the first — nor last, most likely — stage star to have digs at their personal appearance included in a review of their work. In June, British Theater Guide writer Philip Fisher commented on Nicola Coughlan’s body in his review of “The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie,” in which she is now starring at London’s Donmar Warehouse.
In response to being called a “fat girl,” Coughlan took to Twitter to call out the critic.
The 30-year-old Irish actress also pointed out that this is the second time Fisher commented on her weight in a review for the British Theatre Guide. She said he is “not welcome to review any show I am in from now till forever. And I plan to be in a lot of damn shows.”
Umphress followed up later in the day on Monday with a more personal tweet, explaining how she was hurt, mad — and finally overwhelmed with love and support. Here’s hoping she holds on to that feeling.
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