Months after Broadway’s “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet Of 1812” was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, the critically acclaimed production is to close, after a casting controversy sparked diversity concerns. The show will end on Sept. 3, less than one year after its premiere, producers announced Tuesday.
The unconventional musical adaptation of a 70-page section within Leo Tolstoy’s literary classic War and Peace opened to rave reviews in November. Josh Groban, appearing in his first Broadway role, led the production to raking in the most Tony nominations of the season in May. But the show only picked up two awards (for scenic design and lighting), and lost the evening’s biggest honors to “Dear Evan Hansen.”
While Groban was scheduled to leave the production on July 3, producers had cast “Hamilton” veteran Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan to fill the title role for the following nine weeks. But they reportedly started worrying about declining ticket sales and abruptly announced on July 26 that longtime Broadway star Mandy Patinkin would take over the role from Onaodowan in August ― three weeks before the “Hamilton” star’s run was supposed to end.
The decision sparked outrage within the Broadway community and among theater fans, who accused producers of making a move that was racially motivated. Amid the backlash, Patinkin dropped out, saying that he was unaware of the circumstances surrounding his hiring.
A day later, Onaodowan announced that he would leave the show on Aug. 13.
After producers announced the show’s final performance, Groban and other supporters of the show encouraged audiences to go see the production while they still could.