• Anthony Chase

Shit Show at Shea's

Two Board Members Resign amid Staff Revolt

Rumors had already been circulating, when, about six weeks ago, Shea's notified members of press that Shea's president, Michael Murphy had gone on "leave," effective July 17th. There was no explanation. In the following days, however, tales of demeaning, abusive, and volatile behavior began to circulate. The theme was "Toxic work environment."

Shea's became a fortress of silence, with nobody willing to talk about what was happening behind the scenes, but members of the press began to receive anonymous information. This all changed on Friday, August 12th when 25 members of the Shea's staff, fearful that the board was about to allow Murphy to return to work, signed their names to a letter protesting. On Sunday, Mark Sommer broke the story online, and then on the front page of the Buffalo News the next day.

The details are explosive and the story continues to develop. Today, Sommer has written a follow up story, revealing that two member of the Shea's board have resigned, including Rich McCarthy, who represents M&T Bank. M&T sponsors Shea's Broadway series, and has given millions to Shea's over the years. Sommer reports that Holly Beecher, corporate secretary at Phillips Lytle law firm, also resigned from the board.

In addition, Sommer reports that Thembi Duncan, Shea's director of Arts Engagement and Education, has just become the eleventh Shea's staff member to quit this year. More than a quarter of the staff has bailed on Shea's, mostly indicating a toxic work environment as a contributing factor.

It is apparent that something's gotta give.

In the meantime, the Shea's production of "Once on this Island" is in rehearsal.

The Shea's gala, featuring Renée Elise Goldsberry of Hamilton, will be on Sunday. It should be a memorable evening!