Theater News

Mandy Patinkin Backs Out of The Great Comet

Following a social media uproar, the Tony-winning star announces that he will not replace Okieriete Onaodowan in the role of Pierre.

Mandy Patinkin has announced that he will no longer be joining the cast of Broadway's The Great Comet.
Mandy Patinkin has announced that he will no longer be joining the cast of Broadway's The Great Comet.
(© David Gordon)

According to the New York Times, Mandy Patinkin has withdrawn from Dave Malloy's The Great Comet, in which he was scheduled to appear in the role of Pierre for a limited three-week run (August 15-September 3). He would have replaced Okieriete "Oak" Onaodowan (Hamilton), who had initially been scheduled to play the role during that time.

The decision to curtail Onaodowan's performance caused a flurry of protest in the theater community and in social media circles.

"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," Patinkin wrote in an email to the New York Times, which broke the story.

In response, producer Howard Kagan released to following statement on Twitter: "As part of our sincere effort to keep Comet running for the benefit of its cast, creative team, crew, investors, and everyone involved, we arranged for Mandy Patinkin to play Pierre. However, 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. We regret our mistake deeply and wish to express our apologies to everyone who felt hurt and betrayed by these actions."

Malloy (who has also played Pierre on and off-Broadway) reacted to the whole situation in a series of tweets. "Please don't give Mandy grief, he's devastated," the composer wrote, adding, "I am not sure that the show has a future now."

This would have been Patinkin's first Broadway role since 2000's The Wild Party, and his first time on Broadway since his 2011-12 season concert An Evening With Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin. Patinkin won a 1980 Tony Award for Evita and is currently featured on the Showtime television series Homeland.

Inspired by a small section of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, The Great Comet was created by Malloy and is directed by Rachel Chavkin. The musical was originally commissioned and developed in New York at Ars Nova, where it had its world premiere in fall 2012, and was transferred to a custom-built venue in the Meatpacking District for summer 2013. The show and the entire venue were transferred to the Theater District, where The Great Comet continued its run into spring 2014. It played a pre-Broadway engagement in 2015 at the American Repertory Theater in Massachusetts. The Broadway mounting opened November 14, 2016, at the Imperial Theatre and received 2017 Tony Awards for Best Scenic Design and Best Lighting Design.

For tickets to The Great Comet, click here.

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The Great Comet

Closed: September 3, 2017