The Beauty and the Beast U.K. and Ireland touring production will need a new Beast after star Emmanuel Kojo was removed from the tour after an internal investigation found allegations that Kojo made inappropriate comments to a female crew member. Kojo was suspended in October after Disney Theatrical Productions announced the investigation. Kojo's agency, United Agents, also parted ways with the actor due to the controversy.
On Nov. 11, Disney told The Stage, which covers U.K. theater, that Kojo is no longer working on the production but offered no further comments. When Kojo was suspended in mid-October, Disney told The Stage, "We are aware of a complaint, which we take very seriously, and a thorough investigation is underway. The employee in question has been suspended until the matter is resolved." Alyn Hawke, who took over the role in October, will perform as the Beast for the rest of the tour.
Although Disney did not share further details of the allegations against Kojo, sources told The Sun in October that crew members threatened to leave if Kojo wasn't fired. "Women think his behavior is unacceptable," the source said. "It has been claimed he was on the side of the stage and made a comment to a female member of the crew about the way she was looking at him. She was very uncomfortable and the comment was overheard."
Hawke confirmed on Nov. 5 that he would be playing the Beast for the rest of the tour. "For those who have been asking, I can confirm that I will be playing Beast for the remainder of our run in Edinburgh," he wrote on Instagram at the time. On Sunday, he marked his 50th performance as the character. Kojo has not publicly commented on the investigation.
This was not the first controversy for the touring production, which began in September and is scheduled to continue into next year. In April, director Rob Roth stepped down after an email he sent supporting the controversial producer Scott Rudin leaked to the public, The Stage reported at the time. In the email, Roth said Rudin deserved "an honorary Tony for somehow getting that horrible woman to quit acting," adding, "God bless you Scott for your service to American theatre." The actor Roth was referring to was Karen Olivo, who left Broadway's Moulin Rouge! to protest Rudin, the mega-producer accused of abusive behavior by former employees. After the email leaked, Roth confirmed its authenticity and left the Beauty and the Beast production. He was replaced by Matt West, who also serves as the choreographer.
The Beauty and the Beast production's stop in Edinburgh wrap up on Nov. 27 and will then start a stint in Cardiff from Dec. 9 to Jan. 15. Stints in Sunderland, Birmingham, and Manchester have also been scheduled. Courtney Stapleton, who starred in U.K. productions of Mamma Mia! and Dear Evan Hansen, plays Belle on the tour.