PR blind spot and Twitter backlash combine to close ‘Great Comet’ on Broadway

When producers moved to replace an African-American lead with Broadway legend Mandy Patinkin, the online criticism engulfed a production previously lauded for diverse casting.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

It’s an ignominious end for a groundbreaking theater production.

“Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812” premiered on Broadway in November of 2016 to wide-acclaim and 12 Tony Award nominations. It was given the Extraordinary Excellence in Diversity Award from Actors’ Equity’s National Equal Employment Opportunity Committee and remained a star vehicle, with ticket sales supported by the presence of multi-platinum soloist Josh Groban.

However, after a casting controversy and PR missteps over the replacement of new lead actor and “Hamilton” alum Okieriete Onaodowan, the show has announced it will close.

When Groban departed, some questioned how the production would fare without a bona fide star.

Deadline wrote:

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.