Readers Respond

BroadwayWorld Readers Respond to THE GREAT COMET Casting Controversy

BroadwayWorld Readers Respond to THE GREAT COMET Casting Controversy

The New York Times has reported that following public outcry, Broadway legend Mandy Patinkin has withdrawn from his scheduled run in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.

In a statement e-mailed to the New York Times Thursday evening, Patinkin addresses the controversy, statting:

"My understanding of the show's request that I step into the show is not as it has been portrayed and I would never accept a role knowing it would harm another actor," Mr. Patinkin said. "I hear what members of the community have said and I agree with them. I am a huge fan of Oak and I will, therefore, not be appearing in the show."

As BroadwayWorld reported earlier this week, Tony and Emmy Award winner Mandy Patinkin was scheduled to make his long-awaited return to Broadway in NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812, starring as 'Pierre' from August 15 - September 3 only. Okieriete "Oak" Onaodowan, currently playing the role, will play his final performance as 'Pierre' on August 13.

Producer Howard Kagan explained Okieriete Onaodowan's departure earlier this week: "This continues our show's remarkable history of having great actors and singers see the show as audience members, only to tell us they are inspired to join the cast! Whenever possible we will accommodate them as we did here with Mandy and his Homeland TV schedule. Oak, who was scheduled to appear as Pierre for this period graciously agreed to make room for Mandy, and we sincerely hope that Oak will return to us in the fall or winter. He is a terrific Pierre."

The show's composer, Dave Malloy, took to Twitter to explain some of the reasoning behind this.

He writes that "The show was in desperate shape; sales after Ingrid leaving Aug 13 were catastrophically low."

He also revealed that Mandy Patinkin was unaware that Okieriete Onaodowan was being asked to leave the production early. Patinkin was asked to step in ASAP as the show was on the brink of closing.

He concluded with "I am not sure that the show has a future now."


We asked BroadwayWorld readers what they thought about the situation... Check out what they had to say, and leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Kitty Le Claire writes "Hope the people who complained realized that the show will probably close now. Am I pissed about oak? Yeah. Did I think Oak was the best Pierre that I saw? Uhhh hands down, yes. Do I want the best for this show and do I want to see it live for as long as possible? Heck yah I do.I am not happy but all this backlash is going to kill the show and the rest of the cast, creative and Dave Malloy does not deserve that..."

Patricia Gorsky writes "Kudos to MP but glad that I didn't purchase tickets yesterday when it was announced. I was so excited to see him and now it won't happen."

Caitie Dugan writes "This is ridiculous. They were bringing Mandy in to save the show and now it is pretty much guaranteed to close. So glad we had to make this about race when it obviously wasn't."

Kaylin Miller writes "Literally bought tickets yesterday to see Mandy. Who will play the role now?"

Cher Laston writes "I feel that, 'race issues included', this puts a spotlight on a huge pet peeve of mine: the bringing of "super" name actors to punch up ticket sales of a show. This phenomenon, not really sure how long Broadway has done this but regardless, drives up ticket prices and literally prevents hard-working, theatre-loving people from taking their seat! There are so many gifted individuals who have sacrificed literally everything to make a career in live theatre and it is offensive to all of us (artists) to be asked to step aside so someone who no longer has to struggle (gifted as they may be) can have a 6 week run under the lights! I LOVE Mandy Patinkin as a performer but I am deeply opposed to guest casting. I have not seen this show though I wish to very much. Sadly, I am simply unable to afford the ticket price and at my age, I cannot afford the 'chance' of garnering a rush seat, if they even offer them at this show."

Lori Krohmer writes "Sadly I feel like if the production team had stated the true reason why (i.e. Revenue issues .... we need to bring in a big theatre name that will get the older crowd in) then perhaps people would have been sympathetic. I am sad that they handled it poorly and will be very sad if the show closes. We saw the show a few weeks ago and loved it. The story line is a bit weak but the theatrics were excellent and Denee benson sounds like an angel sent from above! It was a very fun show! Sad!"

Katherine Massey writes "In my opinion, the complaints were valid. This is not on Mandy or on Oak. This is entirely on the producers of the show, who clearly handled this poorly. I think Mandy's statement is well articulated and supportive, and I respect him immensely. I have a feeling the reasons for the change were not presented to either one of these wonderful actors truthfully. I would be pissed too if I were either of them. If the show closes it's on the producers."

Lori Bateson writes "It's an amazing show. What a shame. People just can't stop themselves from creating controversy where none exists."

Sabrina Miller writes "This has turned into an absolute mess. I'm sorry for Oak & Mandy. They both deserved better than the way this was handled."

Mychaela Bardakjy writes "It's three weeks. They could have let Oak finish his run until early September and put a big name in after that (announcing it as soon as they could of course). I'm heartbroken to hear that such a fabulous show was on the brink of closing but this was handled poorly, and because of that, probably won't change the closing outcome. Which is devastating."



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