‘Hamilton’ Musical Faces Casting Controversy
Hamilton, the history lesson on our Founding Fathers with a hip-hop twist has been gaining major momentum – so much that the cast of the popular production was invited to the White House for a full day of celebrating the arts in America.
Presented by a multicultural ensemble, the Broadway hit, is now being criticized by the Actors’ Equity Association union for verbiage used in a recent casting call which seeks “nonwhite men and women” for upcoming roles in the future versions.
The association stated Wednesday that the language was not in compliance with their rules.
The show has since apologized for the casting confusion and will add “we welcome people of all ethnicities to audition.”
What’s interesting is that prior to the most recent open casting call, critics were silent when the show was in beginning stages and called for nonwhite actors to portray Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson and Eliza Hamilton. King George III was the only character intended to be fulfilled by a white actor.
And yet, there was no controversial outcry.
Perhaps, the modern-styled story wasn’t expected to reach such heights and applause, so the scrutiny was not as heavy.
“Hamilton” producers said such a stance adheres to the accepted practice that certain characteristics in certain roles constitute a legal and “bona fide occupational qualification.” Other shows also cast with ethnicity in mind.
Since it opened off-Broadway last year, the show has been celebrated for putting minorities at the center of America’s birth. The show’s African-American, Asian and Latino actors have been cheered by many and even made a special performance appearance during the 2016 Grammys.
The latest snag occurred when the show posted on its website a call for “nonwhite men and women, ages 20s to 30s, for Broadway and upcoming tours.” Equity, which usually reviews casting notices, said it had not in this case.
“Our audition rules are created to provide the broadest access possible for our members to be seen for roles,” the union said.
“We will continue to cast the show with the same multicultural diversity that we have employed thus far,” producer Jeffrey Seller said in a statement.
Amid the biggest controversy the production has encountered thus far, Hamilton is still a hot ticket.
A Chicago production will open this fall and a national tour will travel to San Francisco and then Los Angeles in 2017.