Things are Getting Ugly with the Closing of The Great Comet
Anytime a Broadway show closes, there are a lot of emotions people connected with the show, go through. A performer friend of mine said they go through something similar to the "Five Stages of Grief"(denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). Anytime this happens, some people deal with it better than others.
Over the past month, the situation involving Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 and its soon-to-be closing has been one of the biggest stories of the year. In my history, it's the first time where social media uproar played a huge role in killing the show.
Now one would think that since news of the show's closing, the social media sniping would come to a halt. I was apparently wrong for thinking that.
Earlier in the month Joey Cassata, a drummer for the show, posted a picture on his Twitter with a not-so subtle message.
Yeah, not exactly subtle there. Also not exactly professional either. But I can at least understand where he's coming from. I've talked with a several people connected with the show and they have all told me that Michael Reidel's column detailing the issues within the show is 100% accurate. So I'll just leave it at that.
But Mr. Cassata wasn't done. A couple of days ago he Tweeted this,
What he is tweeting is a picture of Great Comet's award for diversity from Actor's Equity, an award they indeed, should have won. But it's very clear from his tagging who Mr. Cassata is blaming for the show's closing, with the exception of BroadwayWorld and Broadway.com.
Shortly after, Ms. Erivo responded.
And kept responding,
To the point, she had it with all the Great Comet comments,
Needless to say, fans of the show are less than happy with Ms. Erivo's comments. But let's be honest, she was responding to Mr. Cassata's tweet calling her out. I would have done the same.
So let's clear some things up here. First and foremost, while I don't think Mr. Cassata's opinions are unfounded, he needs to chill with the tweeting. In this day and age, social media behavior can jeopardize any career, so for the sake of future employment, don't keep digging a Twitter hole. I would also advise Mr. Erivo not to jump into every Twitter fight with fans, but I understand that's easier said than done. At the same time, I might not dismiss a fan as a "child" simply for their critical but respectful comments.
I understand that as we lead up to the show's closing on Sunday, fans are going to be pointing fingers. I'm fine with that. But just make sure the fingers are pointing in the right direction. There were plenty responsible for Great Comet's demise and to simply blame Cynthia Erivo is ludicrous.
I've outlined my thoughts on why the show is closing, and I do not think Broadway Black and Cynthia Erivo are the reasons why. The show was going to close soon after Groban left and a 3-week Mandy Patinkin run wouldn't have mattered much in the long run.
However, are they(and especially Rafael Casal) blameless for the social media uproar that accelerated the show's closing? Certainly not. And just as we do when we ourselves contribute to online controversy, they need to own up to that. Just as the fans of this show need to understand that the very reasons it made it to Broadway, are the same reasons why it's closing.
I am saddened a great show like this is closing. I will always feel that it should have been the next The Fantasticks and ran in a small theatre Off-Broadway for years.
But for all the negative news that surrounded this show in the beginning of the month, it deserves a classy closing weekend. While high roads need to be taken, accountability and professionalism need to be practiced as well.