Matt Elesmore, who has toured with numerous productions including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Funny Girl starring Sheridan Smith, and is currently working on the musical version of Bridges Over Madison County at the Menier Chocolate Factory, wrote an article backing the theatre proposals for Tunbridge Wells in 2017.
“It appeared in a local paper and I posted it on Facebook because I wanted to hear what people thought – I have worked in the theatre all my life and I really believed Tunbridge Wells deserved a decent venue,” he told the Times.
After posting the article, the 28-year-old says he was immediately ‘bombarded’ with messages.
“People were saying I didn’t know what I was talking about – despite what I did for a living. One person even said ‘why don’t you just go and die’.”
After receiving more than 200 messages, his wife insisted he leave the computer alone, but the backlash did not stop there.
On seeing the article, the current Chairman of Tunbridge Wells Alliance, Robert Chris, wrote to Mr Elesmore, warning him: “I wonder whether you might want to reconsider your opinion to ensure your name is not cast in an unfavourable light in what I fully expect to be a fiercely fought public battle.”
Mr Chris, who mistakenly believed Mr Elesmore did not live in the area, added: “It would be unfortunate if your good name became an unwitting casualty of a local issue far from your home town.”
Mr Elesmore, who lives in Tunbridge Wells, said: “Yes, it was menacing, but I don’t regret what I wrote.
“I strongly support this theatre and wanted to voice my opinion and if that means I have to be cannon fodder then so be it.”