After much backlash regarding the casting of a new Pierre in The Great Comet of 1812, Mandy Patinkin, gave a statement to the New York Times on Friday withdrawing from the cast prior to his start date. See statement below:
“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.”
This statement shocked the airwaves after Okieriete Onaodowan’s (Oak) contract was cut short due to a drastic decrease in tickets sales after Josh Groban’s departure from the show. Several actors/actresses voiced their concern and outrage for Oak, including 2016 Tony-Award-winning best Actress in a musical, Cynthia Erivo. See twitter feed below:
Co-Producer of The Great Comet, Howard Kagan, offered an official statement of apology following Mandy’s declaration.
“As part of our sincere efforts to keep Comet running for the benefit of its cast, creative team, crew, investors and everyone else 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.”
With the buzz and controversy surrounding the show, the fate of the most Tony-nominated show of the season is up in the air. The question was and still is; but what about Pierre?