Dramat fires ‘Monty’ director

The director of the Yale Dramatic Association’s “The Full Monty” has been fired by the group, days before the fall main-stage show was set to begin.

Holly-Anne Ruggiero, the professionally hired director for “The Full Monty,” confirmed her termination in an interview, though she declined to comment on the details surrounding the matter. It remains unclear when and why the director was fired, because both she and others involved with the show refused to confirm specific details.

In a mandatory meeting at 11 p.m. Monday, cast and crew members were notified that Ruggiero would be leaving, but two of them said they were not told Ruggiero was fired at the meeting. Since then, the show’s costume designer Maria Zamansky and scenic designer Anne Goelz have quit and were removed from the show’s crew list on the Dramat Web site.

“The Full Monty” is set to open on Nov. 12, but the dismissal and sudden departures have left the cast and crew with an unfinished set — and show — to complete on their own.

Ruggiero confirmed her departure in a phone interview today: “You know I was fired, right?”

“They really didn’t notify me in the correct way,” she added. “They kind of pulled me in a back room and fired me, which was unprofessional.”

A student involved in the production who wished to remain anonymous wrote in an e-mail message that the director was fired because of a “breach of contract,” but other members of the Dramat declined to confirm this. The same student wrote that Zamansky and Goelz had agreed to stay with the production at the beginning of the week.

In an e-mail sent Wednesday, Dramat President Ashley Rodbro ’09 urged the members of the production not to speak to the press about the “situation” after a News reporter had contacted students involved in the production.

When the News asked Yale College’s supervisor for undergraduate productions and special events, James Brewczynski, to confirm Ruggiero’s departure on Thursday evening, he said by phone that he knew “very little” and referred comment to Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry. (Gentry did not respond to requests for comment Thursday evening.)

But Brewczynski added: “I do know of the firing.”

In an in-person interview 15 minutes later, he said he could not confirm or deny the firing. He also denied that he had acknowledged the firing in the initial interview.

The Dramat executive board traditionally hires theater professionals in order to help with the fall and spring main-stage productions.

Emma Griffin ’10, the producer of “The Full Monty,” said she had no comment when approached by the News at the production set Thursday. “Call Ashley Rodbro,” she said.

Rodbro declined to comment on the situation in an e-mail Thursday night.

When contacted by the News on Thursday afternoon, Ruggiero was packing up her things to leave New Haven that night.

She declined to provide further comment on the firing on advice of her lawyer, Benjamin Feldman ’90. (Feldman, who was a secretary of the Dramat during his undergraduate years, did not return multiple voice mail messages left on his cell phone last night.)

Ruggiero worked as an assistant director on the 2006 Tony Award-winning “Jersey Boys.”

Danika Fears contributed reporting.

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