You heard it here first, Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan, is leaving Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. According to sources, the New Jersey born actor who is best known for the roles of Hercules Mulligan and James Madison in Hamilton, is being replaced by Mandy Patinkin in an effort to “boost ticket sales.” Oak’s relationship with The Great Comet has been rough from the start, as he was initially set to succeed Joshua Groban at the Imperial Theatre July 3 until delays caused him to start on July 11th. It was at the time that Onaodowan, tweeted in June that the show mysteriously needed another week to prepare for his arrival.
— The Incredible Oak (@OakSmash) June 30, 2017
Although this delay was not clarified by The Great Comet, it seems odd that Oak became responsible for communicating this information to fans as opposed to the show. The story of Onaodowan joining the cast with delays followed by the abrupt replacement of his role to boost ticket sales raises questions about how Black actors are valued and supported within Broadway. It is ironic when Black actors participate in narratives about colonial history, change present day history by adding to the diversity to Broadway, and then are easily replaced as if their only value to a production is based on ticket sales.
In 2016, Onaodowan won a Grammy award for his contributions to the Hamilton soundtrack. He is a talented actor with a rich stage resume on Broadway (Hamilton & Rocky), Off Broadway (Langston in Harlem & Neighbors) and on the small screen debuting as Afrika Bambaataa in three episodes of the Netflix original series The Get Down.
Critics agree that his performance in The Great Comet is stellar bringing a deeply moving energy to the character of Pierre. While it is a great loss to lose such a talented actor, it is clear The Great Comet will not be the last stop on his path of Black excellence. Onaodowan’s last performance as Pierre on Broadway is August 13th 2017.
Kareem Lucas’ The Maturation of an Inconvenient Negro (or ‘iNegro’) Kicks Off Cherry Lane Theatre’s Mentor Project
Cherry Lane Theatre is proud to kick-off its Obie Award-winning Mentor Project with this year’s first production, The Maturation of an Inconvenient Negro (or iNegro) written by and starring Kareem M. Lucas, mentored by Craig ‘muMs’ Grant. The Maturation of an Inconvenient Negro is directed by David Mendizábal and began performances on Wednesday, February 20 and runs through March 2 at the Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce Street, NYC). Tickets are $25 ($60 for a three-show membership) and can be purchased by visiting cherrylanetheatre.org or by calling 866-811-4111.
This solo show of heightened poetry and raw self-reflection takes the audience on the subversive journey of a young Black man coming into himself, as he struggles to break free of what he holds onto most tightly. In iNegro – No one is safe. Nothing is sacred.
This marks the first show of three Mentor Project productions. Upcoming productions include three girls never learnt the way home, written by Matthew Paul Olmos and mentored by Taylor Mac (March 13 – 23, 2019) and The Climb written by C.A. Johnson and mentored by Martyna Majok (April 3 – 13, 2019). Casting and creative team TBA.
The creative team includes set design by Wilson Chin, costumes by Dede Ayite, lighting design by Cha See, sound design and composer Mauricio Escamilla, and Kristy Bodall is the Production Stage Manager.
The Mentor Project, winner of an Obie Award for its dedication to helping early-career playwrights develop new work, each year partners an emerging author with a seasoned professional for a year of script work, rewrites, casting, rehearsals and a full production at Cherry Lane. Mentor Project is also the recipient of the James Kirkwood Award for American Playwrights.
This marks the 21st year if the Mentor Project which has helped develop works by playwrights such as Jocelyn Bioh, Katori Hall, Rajiv Joseph, and Antoinette Nwandu.
Meet The Press: Loy A. Webb’s The Light Now Running Off-Broadway
MCC Theater presents the first show in their new home on 52nd street. It’s the New York Premiere of The Light by Loy A. Webb and directed by Logan Vaughn.
Broadway Black had the chance to meet with the entire company. The cast of The Light features Drama Desk Award winner McKinley Belcher III and Mandi Masden.
Not every marriage proposal goes as planned. Loy A. Webb’s The Light introduces us to Rashad and Genesis on what should be one of the happiest days of their lives, but their joy quickly unravels when ground-shifting accusations from the past resurface in this gripping two-character drama. Can their relationship survive the growing divide between them over who- and what – to believe? Directed by Logan Vaughn, The Light is a reckoning that unfolds in real-time and peels away the layers of truth, doubt, pain, and ultimately the power of love.
The Light currently in previews officially opens February 10, 2019, and runs thru March 17, 2019
The creative team includes scenic design by Kimie Nishikawa, costume design by Emilio Sosa, lighting design by Ben Stanton, sound design by Elisheba Ittoop.