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Minority Replacements

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blaxx
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Minority Replacements#0
Posted: 9/24/06 at 6:44pm
Looking at the current Chicago:The Musical cast leads (the roles of Velma, Roxie, Billy and Mama all cast with African-Americans and a Hispanic lady), I've been wondering how many times has Broadway seen a show that was originally cast with (or intended to be played by) white performers as the leads and was, at some point, replaced almost completely with performers of minority backgrounds?

I'm also curious because (and I can be really wrong here), the plot of Chicago and the time it is set, could be completely different if the characters were not white in the 1920's / 30's - just an observation (the show itself is so well known that this obviously doesn't really matter).

Any other examples?
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MargoChanning
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re: Minority Replacements#1
Posted: 9/24/06 at 6:47pm
Well, most obviously there's the all-black Pearl Bailey led cast of HELLO DOLLY that David Merrick put in several years into the original run that caused the show to become a sell-out hit again overnight.
"What a story........ everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end." -- Birdie [http://margochanning.broadwayworld.com/] "The Devil Be Hittin' Me" -- Whitney
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re: Minority Replacements#2
Posted: 9/24/06 at 6:51pm
Ohhhh...good example. I always thought it opened with an all-black cast - never thought the whole cast was replaced that way.
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Jazzysuite82
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re: Minority Replacements#3
Posted: 9/24/06 at 6:57pm
Acutally the show isn't really different when Chicago is played by actors of color. It's not the same as if there were say an Asian Ellen in Miss Saigon. THAT changes the story a bit.
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re: Minority Replacements#4
Posted: 9/24/06 at 7:02pm
The differences in Chicago are more logical/historical. ie, could a young black man in America in the 1920's become such a successful, well-respected attourney? But no, it wouldn't dramatically alter the plot.
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blaxx
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re: Minority Replacements#5
Posted: 9/24/06 at 7:03pm
Well, maybe I'm not well aware on how a murder trail for two women of a minority background would have gone in the 1920's (and having a black lawyer on their side), but I believe it wouldn't have been as glamorous (the concept of the show weights much more than these details of course, so no one really pays attention - I just think it's good and interesting seeing such a radical way the show is cast).

I've seen an Asian Ellen on Broadway actually - it made sense to me that Chris would find an Asian wife because of Kim's memory.
Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE
Julian2
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re: Minority Replacements#6
Posted: 9/24/06 at 9:45pm
There was that all-black revival of Guys and Dolls in the 70's
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Yankeefan007
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re: Minority Replacements#7
Posted: 9/24/06 at 9:49pm
There was an all black version of Long Day's Journey into Night with Earle Hyman (directed by Geraldine Fitzgerald).

And who can forget Larry Olivier's blackface Othello....does that count?
MargoChanning
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re: Minority Replacements#8
Posted: 9/24/06 at 9:54pm
I thought this thread was about non-white REPLACEMENT casts, not about productions which were originally conceived to be all non-white (eg Long Day's Journey, Guys and Dolls). There have been DOZENS of those.
"What a story........ everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end." -- Birdie [http://margochanning.broadwayworld.com/] "The Devil Be Hittin' Me" -- Whitney
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re: Minority Replacements#9
Posted: 9/24/06 at 10:26pm
The Denver Center Theatre Company did A Streetcar Named Desire with an all black cast 2 seasons ago. It was very good, and some lines spoken by the black actors instead of white actors, took on a new meaning. It was a hit here and sold very well.
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Jazzysuite82
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re: Minority Replacements#10
Posted: 9/24/06 at 11:14pm
well actually Margo those all black casts are relevant because those shows weren't concieved as all black shows. So it still counts.
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re: Minority Replacements#11
Posted: 9/24/06 at 11:21pm
Acutally the show isn't really different when Chicago is played by actors of color. It's not the same as if there were say an Asian Ellen in Miss Saigon. THAT changes the story a bit.


Asian women HAVE played Ellen on more than one national tour and major regional production....
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MargoChanning
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re: Minority Replacements#12
Posted: 9/24/06 at 11:50pm
The original question:

"I've been wondering how many times has Broadway seen a show that was originally cast with (or intended to be played by) white performers as the leads and was, at some point, replaced almost completely with performers of minority backgrounds?"

The question was about replacement casts, NOT black versions of traditionally white shows, which is a different question and thread entirely. But if you want to talk about that you can start go back at least as far as the Orson Welles/John Houseman "Voodoo Macbeth" in the 30s up through the soon to start all black "King Lear" starring Andre de Shields that the Classical Theatre of Harlem is producing. Off the top of my head, you can also include "Timbuktu!" (the black version of "Kismet" that starred Eartha Kitt back in the 70s), "The Hot Mikado" (based on The Mikado, which toured during the 80s), several Public Theatre productions of classics over the years ("King Lear" with James Earl Jones, Rosanne Cash and Lee Chamberlin, "The Cherry Orchard" with James Earl Jones, Gloria Foster, and Earle Hyman, "Coriolanus" with Hyman, "Julius Caesar," "Mother Courage" with Gloria Foster), the Ma-Yi Theatre's production of "Mother Courage" from the late 90s which featured an all-Asian cast and set the play in the Phillipines during that country's 1960s civil war, "The Drowning Crow" (an all black version of "The Seagull" rewritten by Regina Taylor and updated to the present day which played at MTC a couple of seasons back, and last season's "On Golden Pond" which starred James Earl Jones and Leslie Uggams. And there are dozens of other examples.

"What a story........ everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end." -- Birdie [http://margochanning.broadwayworld.com/] "The Devil Be Hittin' Me" -- Whitney
Updated On: 9/24/06 at 11:50 PM
Jazzysuite82
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re: Minority Replacements#13
Posted: 9/25/06 at 12:59am
I know what the question was...it's not that deep I just said that if someone happen to mention all black casts it's still relevant because they weren't concieved with all black casts in mind. It needn't be an entirely different thread. The point of the thread is color-blind casting changing things significantly.

Ummm I knew there were asian Ellens that's why I brought it up.
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re: Minority Replacements#14
Posted: 9/25/06 at 1:26am
As Margo said I believed the thread was about minorities who had replaced the major stars of a show conceived for white actors, as a matter of fact, the thread name is "minority replacements" instead of "minority productions." But I understand how it is relevant to mention revivals that included an all-minority cast.
With the Chicago revival I've never had issues with the minority casting just because the show avoids to exist in a 1920s era unlike the original production (in my opinion). I doubt that in the 1920s an African-American man could've been the most sought-after attorney and never lost a case. However, this is hardly relevant in a revival that is hardly conscious of the era as Fosse's production was.
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re: Minority Replacements#15
Posted: 9/25/06 at 1:43am
And for what I can see, the case of having the leads of a white-intended cast replaced mostly by minorities, is extremely rare...the Hello Dolly! and this Chicago revival had been the only ones that we can come up with. I'm sure a random lead has been replaced with a minority-background performer, but it is extremely rare with most/all of the leads.
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moviefan1
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re: Minority Replacements#16
Posted: 9/25/06 at 2:00am
I know there was a african-american Fantine at sometime, not sure where or when. I wonder if they changed anything else to accomodate that.
MargoChanning
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re: Minority Replacements#17
Posted: 9/25/06 at 2:10am
I just remembered an example of gender-based, rather than race-based non-traditional replacement casting. Back in the late 70s, Tom Conti starred in the drama "Who's Life Is It Anyway?" about a British scultor who becomes paralyzed after an automobile accident. The play ran for about half a year, closed for a few months and then re-opened starring Mary Tyler Moore in the title role (the gender of a few supporting characters was changed as well).

It's also probably worth mentioning that Whoopi Goldberg and David Alan Grier were among Nathan Lane's replacements in the last revival of FORUM.

"What a story........ everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end." -- Birdie [http://margochanning.broadwayworld.com/] "The Devil Be Hittin' Me" -- Whitney
Updated On: 9/25/06 at 02:10 AM
RentBoy86
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re: Minority Replacements#18
Posted: 9/25/06 at 2:31am
I still don't get the Whoopi casting. Though, I hear she was good, right?
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re: Minority Replacements#19
Posted: 9/25/06 at 4:54am
Several roles in Wicked:

Taye Diggs - Fiyero (sub)
Ben Vereen - Wizard (replacement)
Saycon Sengbloh - Elphaba (u/s)
Brandi Whatsherface - Elphaba (u/s)
Derrick Williams - Fiyero (replacement)
Aaron Albano - Boq (tour u/s)
Terry Leung - Boq (Chicago)

Rent:
It's not clear whether too many of the roles were actually written specifically for a certain race (though Mimi is debatable)
There's been countless black, Latino, etc replacements for Maureen, Joanne, Angel, Collins

Beauty and the Beast:
Toni Braxton - Belle (replacement)
Anne Sanders - Belle (replacement)

The Wedding Singer:
Eric LaJuan Summers - George (sub)
Updated On: 9/25/06 at 04:54 AM
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re: Minority Replacements#20
Posted: 9/25/06 at 5:12am
Les Miserables:

Melba Moore - Fantine (Broadway)
Thursday Farrar - Fantine (Tour)
Tonya Dixon - Fantine (Tour)
Joan Almedilla - Fantine (Tour)
Shanice - Eponine (Broadway)
Rona Figueroa - Eponine (Broadway)
Lea Salonga - Eponine (Broadway)
Ma-Ane Dionisio - Eponine (Tour)
Cornell John - Javert (London)
Ricky Martin - Marius (Broadway)
Fuschia Walker - Madame (Broadway)
Shaun Escoffery - Enjolras (London)
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Updated On: 9/25/06 at 05:12 AM
Colle
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re: Minority Replacements#21
Posted: 9/25/06 at 3:41pm
A couple of actors to add to the Les Miserables minority replacments list:

Adam Jacobs-Marius(U.S.tour)
Ali Ewoldt-Cosette(U.S. tour), would probably be considered a minority since she is part asian.
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re: Minority Replacements#22
Posted: 9/25/06 at 4:27pm
There was an Asian Christine at some point during the Toronto run of POTO.
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re: Minority Replacements#23
Posted: 9/25/06 at 6:13pm
I was actually thinking of times where the whole or most set of leads were replaced with minorities ... (Think Valjean, Javert, Fantine, Eponine and Marius all at the same time for example). I am aware of times where random leads were replaced that way, but was mostly curious about times where it was about the whole or most of the set of lead roles.
Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE