Diversity or Celebrity? Cast Change at ‘Great Comet’ Prompts Outrage

Rafael Casal, a writer and performer who called attention to the producer’s move on Twitter, called it “infuriating.”

“It’s like the integration of baseball, where a player has to be twice as good,” Mr. Casal said in a phone interview.

Mr. Onaodowan, who spent months preparing for the role, including learning to play the accordion, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The show’s grosses have, to no one’s surprise, dropped since Mr. Groban’s departure. The show had been bringing in about $1.2 million a week with Mr. Groban in the role of Pierre; it brought in $923,571 last week, with Mr. Onaodowan as Pierre. That’s still higher than for most Broadway shows, and still more than the show’s running costs, but not as much as the show is likely to bring in with Mr. Patinkin in the role. Mr. Patinkin is scheduled to play Pierre from Aug. 15 to Sept. 3.

The producers have not said who will play Pierre after Labor Day, but they appear to be considering the occasional use of well-known performers in key roles to excite interest — a strategy many other shows use. This summer, in addition to Mr. Onaodowan, the show has brought in the singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson to play a key role (Natasha’s cousin Sonya).

The most prominent performer to express concern is the actress Cynthia Erivo, who won a Tony Award last year for her performance in a revival of “The Color Purple.” Ms. Erivo posted a series of seven messages on Twitter on Wednesday, suggesting the changeover was unfair to both Mr. Onaodowan and Mr. Patinkin.

“I honestly am flabbergasted,” she posted. She added, “The disrespect of both actors is highly concerning.”

Several…

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