Mandy Patinkin, who had been slated to join the cast of “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” starting Aug. 15, has decided to withdraw from the Tony-winning musical after the ensuing backlash because he was replacing African-American actor Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan. On Wednesday it was announced that Patinkin would take over for the “Hamilton” alum as Pierre, the role originated by Josh Groban, for three weeks.
“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,” Patinkin said in a statement that was emailed Friday to The New York Times. “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.”
The show’s producers confirmed “Homeland” star Patinkin’s departure in a statement obtained by Entertainment Weekly on Friday. “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,” the statement said. “We regret our mistake deeply, and wish to express our apologies to everyone who felt hurt and betrayed by these actions.”
Several Broadway performers, including Tony winner Cynthia Erivo (“The Color Purple”), were among those who voiced their displeasure over Patinkin’s casting. “Mandy is a wonderful man, Oak is a wonderful man, this has been handled badly. Ticket sales shouldn’t override a person doing his job,” she tweeted, adding, “The disrespect of both actors is highly concerning.”