The Great Comet Shake-up
Disclaimer: At the time of writing this, no announcement had been made as to what would happen following Patinkin dropping out of the show. If an announcement is made any updates to the post can be found at the bottom of the page.
I have seen Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet twice. And both times my expectations were exceeded by the incredibly talented cast. The day I went for the second time, an announcement had been made that Mandy Patinkin would be stepping into the role of Pierre from August 13 until September 3, time in which Okieriete Onaodowan was scheduled to finish out his run as Pierre. The day following the announcement led to cries of outrage in the theater community. Personally, I have nothing against anyone involved in the production whether from an acting or production standpoint but I was a little surprised to see this shake-up coming.
Now when I say "cries of outrage" I mean Twitter went into a spin. Dave Malloy, the show's creator, released a series of tweets explaining the entire situation. Sales were "catastrophically low" after Ingrid Michaelson leaving August 13th and the show would have closed. He additionally said the show needed a name to sell it and that Patinkin didn't ask to out Oak and the show asked Patinkin to come as soon as possible. He also apologized for missing the racial optics of it (which is what had caused the outrage on social media), as they had to ask Brittain Ashford to take a break as well.
I had the honor of seeing Oak as Pierre, and he was fantastic. I was honestly surprised when I heard about the shake-up. My feeling is that there was hope that his Hamilton fame would help sell tickets. From a personal perspective that was one of the reasons I wanted to see him in the show. But there are many people who didn't get to see the original cast of Hamilton - I certainly didn't - and many people who have no interest in the show.
However on July 28, Patinkin made the announcement via Twitter that he would no longer be taking on the role of Pierre, just hours after Oak made a statement on Instagram. Many people, myself included, are now worried that the show has no future. While I respect everyone involved in this situation, I would hate to see a production this innovative and beautiful close.
Edit: The producers of The Great Comet have announced that the show will close on September 3rd. Dave Malloy will be stepping in as Pierre for the final weeks of the show.