During a public board meeting yesterday, Nigel Redden, executive director of Spoleto, revealed that Chen Shi-Zheng’s Monkey wasn’t the first choice for this year’s festival. The Gate Theater’s Sweeney Todd was the first choice, but disagreements about staging and internal conflicts among the Gate’s ranks conspired to derail plans for the production.

“The whole thing unraveled,” Redden said, according to Dan Wakin of The New York Times. “We felt that we had to have something to round out the festival.”

Spoleto organizers still believed in Monkey if the price tag is any indication. Last year, the festival spent $342,000 on the Gate’s The Constant Wife. This year, Spoleto spent $1.3 million on Monkey. The added expense explains in part why Spoleto Festival USA is projected to show a deficit by the end of the fiscal year of $292,000, the first time in a dozen years.