Okieriete Onaodowan is going from the American Revolution to 19th-century Russia.
The former Hamilton star, who played Hercules Mulligan and James Madison in the original Broadway cast, has signed on to play the male lead in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, a musical that adapts a portion of War and Peace. Onaodowan replaces Josh Groban, who originated the role of Pierre and made his Broadway debut with the show.
“It’s very different from what I’ve done before — there’s a lot to dig into,” Onaodowan told The New York Times, which broke the news. “I like the fact that Pierre is a guy who really wants to move forward, but doesn’t necessarily know how, and I think a lot of people can relate to that for many reasons.”
Onaodowan was the last original cast member to depart Hamilton, and The Great Comet marks his fourth Broadway show, after roles in Rocky, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Hamilton. He’ll star opposite Denée Benton, who plays Natasha, and his casting means that the show will have two black leads playing Russian aristocrats.
“Having the opportunity to have two black actors star is, to me, irrefutably huge,” Benton told the Times. “Actors of color definitely feel the limitation to have to tell the stories the world has decided are your own, when if you look at the breadth of characters handsome white male actors can play, they’re given access to the whole range. It’s exciting to have that same opportunity.