The original cast of Hamilton included the radiant Phillipa Soo, who had risen to stardom as Natasha in the initial Off Broadway productions of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Now the talent exchange will move in the other direction: Starting July 3, original Hamilton cast member Okieriete Onaodowan, who left the show in December, will replace Josh Groban as Pierre in The Great Comet’s Broadway production.
Onaodowan played two roles in Hamilton—the bombastic Hercules Mulligan and the stuffy James Madison—and the melancholy Pierre will give him a chance to show off even more of his range. The Nigerian-American actor, familiarly known as “Oak,” is only 29 years old, but he has already built up a considerable stage résumé, including a memorable 2009 turn as a teenage rapper in Young Jean Lee’s The Shipment. His casting in a role previously played by white actors, opposite African-American actor Denée Benton as Natasha, is another step forward in Broadway’s commitment to color-blind casting, which Hamilton has also championed. (Like Groban, Onaodowan will play musical instruments in addition to singing and acting.)
Groban will remain in the production through July 2. As we reported in December, The Great Comet’s composer, Dave Malloy, who originated the role of Pierre, will step back into it for ten performances in May and June at which Groban is scheduled to be absent.