Cast and crew of The Lion King musical were targeted by “racist and homophobic abuse” as they made their home from performances in Dublin.
English star Stephenson Ardern-Sodje, who plays Simba, said that they “were subjected to racial and homophobic abuse, both verbally and with the threat of violence, while on the way home after the show in Dublin”.
Speaking on social media, Mr Ardern-Sodje said that “it was a huge blow that hit us hard as a company, opening old wounds for many”.
He added: “This isn’t the first time many of us have experienced something like this, and it’s unlikely to be the last, but in these darker moments it’s good to be reminded ‘that the night must end and that the sun will rise’.”
Another British actor, Rushand Chambers, posted: “It’s just upsetting, all the work, time and energy we’ve given to then be subjected to behaviour like this.”
“Dublin has been a good experience as well I want to make that clear,” Mr Chambers added. “The theatre and audience are beautiful! But we can’t ignore the ugly side too. The country needs healing, it’s just not our job to do so.”
Fellow cast member Melvin Le Blanc added: “This needs to stop!!”
Irish police told Sky News that they were investigating an incident that took place last Friday, 28 January, at Hanover Street East in Dublin.
The street is a very short distance from the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, where The Lion King has been running for the past month.
It’s understood that shortly before 11pm, a number of the production’s members were subjected to verbal abuse from a group of male youths, after leaving the theatre.
Gardai say no arrests have yet been made, and anyone with any information is asked to contact Pearse Street Garda Station.
‘Vile and appalling’
In a statement, the theatre said: “We are saddened to share that several of the performers and crew of The Lion King, currently performing at Bord Gais Energy Theatre in Dublin, were recently subjected to racial abuse on their way home from the theatre.
“It is shocking that something so vile and appalling happened to our colleagues who have brought such joy to thousands of theatregoers since the show opened on 31 December.
“We fully stand with the performers and crew and have put plans in place to support those affected by this incident. We also urge that those responsible be held accountable and have reported this incident to An Garda Siochana.”
Members of the production, which runs in Dublin until Friday, are from the UK, South Africa and France, as well as Ireland.
French actor Jean-Luc Guizonne, who plays Mufasa, shared the theatre’s statement to his Instagram account, adding Black Lives Matter and Stop Racism logos.