Controversy on Broadway
Entertainment

Controversy on Broadway

Results In Show's Closing

134

Today is a sad day for Broadway as Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 closes its doors. The show was supposed to be the next Hamilton, but while tickets for the latter are still impossible to come by and continues to extend its run, the former was forced to close early partly as a result of racial controversy.

Josh Groban, the original Pierre for the Broadway run, had a big enough name to sell a lot of tickets and is one of the main reasons why this broke college student dropped $190 on the closest seat I could get to him. After Groban ended his run mid July, the African-American actor, Okieriete Onaodowan of Hamilton fame, was set to take over. Although a talented performer, Onaodawan had yet to become well-known outside of the Lin-Manuel Miranda-obsessed community, and ticket sales began to dwindle to the point of where the show was under financial duress. Producers thought in order to save the show, a bigger headliner was needed to boost the box office and began searching for another actor.

Producers then reached out to Tony Award winning Mandy Patinkin, famous for his role as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, asking him to make his Broadway return as the melancholy Pierre. There was only one issue: due to Patinkin’s Homeland schedule, his three week run was to start August 15th prematurely forcing Onaodowan out of his role. The show immediately received backlash when the Broadway community discovered the abrupt replacement of a black actor with a white actor, and critics took to Twitter to condemn the producer’s actions while devout fans rebutted with tweets of their own to defend their beloved show. Even though Patinkin decided to step down as Pierre, the damage was already done, and The Great Comet was condemned to close early.

Hamilton made headlines casting actors of color as the founding fathers, and The Great Comet attempted to do the same. Having seen the show first-hand back in March, I can attest to the diversity of the cast, despite the primarily white landscape that is nineteenth century Russia. In fact, nearly half of the cast is nonwhite, including many of the principal characters such Denée Benton’s Natasha, Amber Gray’s Hélène, and Nick Choksi’s Dolokhov, and the show actually received the

Extraordinary Excellence in Diversity on Broadway Award from Actors Equity’s National Equal Employment Opportunity Committee. After the initial controversy, the cast even made a one minute video attempting to highlight the cast’s differences while communicating the importance of diversity in art.

Although Onaodowan was treated poorly by the show’s producers, I believe the decision made was a business-oriented instead of racially motivated. In fact, it’s ridiculous to target arguably the most diverse show currently on Broadway when shows like Anastasia, or as I like to call it the other show that took place in Russia, as well as the critical darling Dear Evan Hansen have all-white casts. It’s terrible to treat actors as means of making money, because musical theatre should be about the art and not profit, but at the end of the day, money is what keeps shows going, and sometimes it’s necessary to cast actors who are going to fill seats.

It is unfortunate and ironic that a casting decision made in an attempt to save the show was what led to its sudden and dramatic demise, effectively silencing the voices of many actors of color. I think the real tragedy, however, was the social media witch hunt the show endured as critics were so quick to persecute the show without first understanding the bigger picture. It’s easy to hide behind a Twitter handleand bash The Great Comet without knowing all the thought that went into this decision, especially since 140 characters could not possibly begin to cover the facts. This experimental work was honestly the best theatrical experience I have ever had, but I think that the show had yet to reach the commercial success it was hoping because it departed so far from the theater-going norm. Unfortunately, fans will never know how far this comet could have soared, but they can at least hope for a revival.

Goodbye, my Gypsy lovers. I’m sorry that Broadway was just not ready for you yet.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Everyone remembers the first time they went to one of the Disney parks. Spinning in teacups and having Goofy wrap his arms around my 8-year-old self were some of my fondest childhood memories, and I'm surely not alone in that.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

These Superfood Beauty Products Show Kale And Matcha Work For SO Much More Than We Thought

Just another summer's day with a cold glass of kombucha on my face.

I've been vegan for about six years now, so a love for fresh vegetables and superfoods has now become a core part of my being. Don't get me wrong. I love my indulgent, creamy pastas and truffle fries more than anyone. But I keep most of my focus on eating clean and healthy so I can indulge guilt-free.

But I'd say about a large part of my diet has always, unknowingly, included superfoods. Being Indian, lentils, beetroot, garlic, ginger, and whole grains have been core essentials on the family dinner table since I could digest solid foods.

Keep Reading... Show less

Now that college is around the corner for most if not all young adults, students once shook by a pandemic now have to shift their focus on achieving their career goals. As if we thought we had it together already! As an NYC girl, I have always seen myself as a hustler, hungry to advance my career in journalism by having one skill: working hard.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

5 BBQ Essentials Every Vegan Should Bring To Avoid Summer Cookout FOMO

You'll have your whole family drooling when you bring these goodies over too.

All vegetarians and vegans can relate when I say this: summer barbecues aren't fun when there's nothing you can eat.

Keep Reading... Show less

Kourtney Kardashian has decided to leave "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" after nearly 14 years and although we saw this coming, it breaks our heart that she won't be there to make us laugh with her infamous attitude and hilarious one-liners.

Kourtney is leaving the show because it was taking up too much of her life and it was a "toxic environment" for her.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

We Asked You How You Felt About Resuming 'Normal' Activities, And Some Of Your Answers Shocked Us

The New York Times asked 511 epidemiologists when they'd feel comfortable doing "normal" activities again, considering COVID-19. We asked our peers the same thing, for science.

Last month, the New York Times surveyed about 500 epidemiologists asking about their comfort level with certain activities once deemed normal — socializing with friends, going to the doctor, bringing in the mail. That's all well and good for the experts, but they are a very niche group, not the majority of the population. What do "normal" people feel safe doing? In certain states, we've seen how comfortable everyone is with everything (looking at you, Florida), but we wanted to know where Odyssey's readers fell on the comfort scale. Are they sticking with the epidemiologists who won't be attending a wedding for another year, or are they storming the sunny beaches as soon as possible?

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments