Broadway's Great Comet closing after casting controversy
The show will conclude Sept. 3
Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 is burning out.
The 12-time Tony-nominated Broadway musical will close Sept. 3 in the wake of a casting backlash, the show’s producers announced Tuesday.
The controversy arose two weeks ago when word came that Mandy Patinkin was being brought in to replace the show’s current star, Hamilton alum Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan, for a limited run. The decision to truncate a black actor’s run and replace him with a white actor drew immediate criticism in the theater community and beyond.
Patinkin eventually withdrew from the show, saying in a statement that he “would never accept a role knowing it would harm another actor,” and the producers issued a mea culpa.
“We had the wrong impression of how Oak felt about the casting announcement and how it would be received by members of the theater community, which we appreciate is deeply invested in the success of actors of color — as are we — and to whom we are grateful for bringing this to our attention,” they said in a statement last month. “We regret our mistake deeply, and wish to express our apologies to everyone who felt hurt and betrayed by these actions.”
Great Comet creator Dave Malloy also tweeted that sales for the show were “catastrophically low” after the scheduled departure of singer Ingrid Michaelson, and Patinkin had been asked “to come in asap because we were on the brink of closing.”
Onaodowan, who succeeded Josh Groban in the role of Pierre, previously announced on social media that his final day in the show would be Aug. 13. He added, “In spite of everything, I am grateful to have had the time to bring this character to life with a remarkable cast that truly make the Imperial Theater a sacred place every night.”