“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” the Broadway musical that had more Tony Award nominations than any other last season, will close on Sept. 3 after struggling to overcome a recent casting controversy, the show’s producers announced on Tuesday.
The role of Pierre — once played by Josh Groban, who brought in well over $1 million in ticket sales every week until he left the cast in early July — had been performed by the “Hamilton” veteran Okieriete Onaodowan, known as Oak, since mid-July.
But about two weeks ago, the producers said Mr. Onaodowan would “make room” for the stage and screen star Mandy Patinkin to step in as Pierre from Aug. 15 through Sept. 3. The backlash was almost immediate as people took issue with a black actor stepping aside to be replaced by a white one.
Mr. Patinkin later withdrew from “The Great Comet,” and Mr. Onaodowan said he would leave the production on Aug. 13 — the same week that another high-profile cast member, the pop singer Ingrid Michaelson, is scheduled to depart.
Amid the uproar, Dave Malloy, the show’s Tony-nominated composer and creator, wrote on Twitter, “So sorry to have missed the racial optics of it.” He added: “The show was in desperate shape; sales after Ingrid leaving Aug. 13 were catastrophically low. Show would have closed.”
Last week “The Great Comet” brought in $875,614 in ticket sales — down from $905,514 one week earlier and from $923,571 the week before the controversy broke out.
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