the theatre

Okieriete Onaodowan Is Bowing Out of The Great Comet of 1812 With a Poignant Dedication

Photo: Walter McBride/Getty Images

Today, August 13, will serve as the last evening that former Hamilton star Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan will be playing the lead in Broadway’s Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. The news is a bummer for enthusiasts of the eclectic musical, as the show was recently marred with a casting controversy when the show’s producers announced that Oak would be replaced with Broadway legend Mandy Patinkin. Many people in the theater community expressed disappointment that a black lead was being replaced with a white actor, although the producers said the casting of a big name was necessary to keep the show from closing due to dwindling ticket sales. (Which it will now be doing on September 3, owing to Patinkin ultimately choosing to withdraw from the role amid the controversy.)

Now, on his last day, Oak has chosen to dedicate his final performance to Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman who was struck by a car and killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend while “protesting hate” at a white-nationalist rally. “My last show is in honor of you,” Oak tweeted this afternoon. “I sing for you today, I weep for you today, on behalf of this nation, I ask to wake up for you today.” Break a leg, Oak.

Great Comet of 1812 Star Oak Bows Out With Moving Dedication